Rosa Solorio told a Fresno jury Thursday that she still loves accused mass murderer Marcus Wesson, considers herself one of his wives and is the mother of two of his children.
She also said she was willing to die for him.
Wesson, 58, is charged in Fresno County Superior Court with killing nine of his children inside his Fresno home near Roeding Park on March 12, 2004. He also faces 14 counts of sexually abusing his daughters and nieces.
Among the dead were Solorio’s son, Ethan, 4, and daughter, Sedona, 1. The children’s father was Wesson, said Solorio, 23, who is Wesson’s niece.
Wesson has pleaded not guilty to the charges. For the second day, Solorio answered questions about her life with Wesson, the killings and Wesson’s alleged suicide pact with his daughters and nieces.
The account Solorio gave to Fresno police detectives last year caused the normally shy and quiet woman to argue Thursday with prosecutor Lisa Gamoian. In front of jurors, Solorio called Gamoian mean and uncaring.
Solorio later broke down and cried when she had to talk about her slain children. Because she lost her composure, Judge R.L. Putnam ended Thursday’s session a half-hour early. Solorio’s testimony is to resume Monday.
After the children were slain, Solorio said, she gave police detectives three interviews, which were tape-recorded.
According to transcripts of the interviews, which Gamoian read to jurors, Solorio told detectives about Wesson’s alleged murder-suicide pact if authorities came to split up the family.
“We were taught that we would go to the Lord,” Solorio told the detectives.
Solorio also told detectives that Wesson, using his fingers to simulate a gun, taught his children to fatally shoot themselves in the temple or heart, according to the transcript.
In court Thursday, however, Solorio testified that her statements to police “were all messed up.” She told jurors, “They put words in my mouth.”
Solorio complained that detectives interviewed her for two to three hours, causing her to become tired and confused.
“I don’t remember saying it,” she insisted after Gamoian read a portion of the interview transcript dealing with the murder-suicide pact. “It’s not true. It would be a lie if I said that.”
She turned her frustration on Gamoian, saying the prosecutor never gave her a chance to clarify her statements before the start of the trial.
“You didn’t look approachable,” Solorio told Gamoian. “You look really mean. You didn’t want anything to do with us.”
Gamoian responded, “Who cares if I’m mean or not? This case is pretty serious. Were you hallucinating when you spoke to police?”
Solorio said she wasn’t hallucinating; she was tired and confused.
The transcript of the police interviews reveals Solorio told detectives about a time in 1999 when family members prepared to carry out the murder-suicide pact while on the family boat docked in Tomales Bay in Northern California.
Earlier in the trial, Rosa Solorio’s older sister, Sofina Solorio, told jurors a similar account in which Wesson allegedly told his older daughters and nieces to kill their younger relatives and themselves if authorities came to split up the family.
While Wesson was away from the family, strangers in a white vehicle passed by the boat several times, Sofina Solorio has testified. After writing suicide notes, Sofina Solorio testified, she had a gun and was poised to carry out the alleged murder-suicide plan.
Thursday, Rosa Solorio recalled her sister, Sofina, loading a gun because of her concerns about the white vehicle passing the family’s boat. Rosa Solorio also testified that she wrote a suicide note, which said: “We are doing this on our own free will. Our parents are not to blame.”
Solorio told jurors, “We would all go to the Lord.”
Minutes later, she changed her account, saying the murder-suicide plan was not real and that after the white car left, she and others on the boat laughed and joked about the incident. “I knew it would not happen,” she testified.
Gamoian pressed Solorio, asking her whether she was prepared to die on the boat in 1999 and “go to the Lord?”
Solorio replied, “Yes.” Everyone was ready to die, Solorio testified.
Solorio said her life has been difficult since the killings: She sometimes sleeps in a car or at a park and often goes to the home where the children were slain to make sure the yard is clean.
She could stay with relatives, she said, but some of them don’t like Wesson and many of them have their own problems. “It’s an environment I don’t want to be around. I want to be alone,” she said.
Solorio told jurors that she suspected Wesson killed the children because he emerged from the home where the bodies were discovered in a back bedroom. “It’s obvious,” she told detectives shortly afterward, according to the transcript of her interview.
But she blamed her sisters, Sofina Solorio and Ruby Ortiz, for the killings because they went to the Wesson home to reclaim their children after promising to be surrogate mothers for Wesson’s wife, Elizabeth.
Sofina’s son, Jonathan, 7, and Ruby’s daughter, Aviv, also 7, were among the victims.
Rosa Solorio became defensive when questions centered around her sexual life with Wesson. “I don’t like to talk about my private life,” she said when Gamoian began to pry.
Solorio, who doesn’t like to curse or identify the private parts of men or women, however, was forced by Gamoian to explain her sex life in graphic detail. Wesson cried as Solorio struggled to say the words that offended her.
Solorio testified that she was about 7 years old when she and six siblings moved into the Wesson household. When she turned 14, Solorio said Wesson taught her “loving,” in which Wesson would rub — over her clothes — her private parts, she testified. The rubbing later turned to oral copulation and sex, Solorio testified.
Solorio said Wesson performed “loving” with his daughters and nieces. She said everyone was a willing partner because Wesson had told them “we would be better women and we would have experience” to please future husbands.
Previous testimony has indicated that Wesson is the father of all of the slain victims. The mothers include his wife, Elizabeth, daughters Kiani and Sebhrenah, and nieces Sofina and Rosa Solorio, and Ruby Ortiz.
Rosa Solorio said she believes men can have multiple wives because the Bible spoke of it and Wesson believes in it. She also testified that she has never disagreed with anything Wesson has told her.
Still wearing her wedding ring from a ceremony she had with Wesson when she was 19, Solorio said she would be faithful to Wesson forever, even if he is not faithful to her.
“I don’t mind,” she said. “I never did.”