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Arraignment Delayed in Fresno Mass Murder Case

Mar. 17, 2004 • Thursday March 18, 2004

The Fresno father who was supposed to be arraigned on nine counts of murder Wednesday had the court date postponed.

Marcus Wesson, 57, refused a public defender, and the judge gave him 24 hours to find his own attorney.

Two of Wesson’s sons came to court, and seeing their father was apparently difficult. One cried out several times, “I love you, Dad,” and had to be taken out of the courtroom. The other son just shook quietly.

Investigators in Fresno haven’t revealed a possible motive, but authorities say Wesson had cult-like control over his children, mostly girls, at least one of whom was apparently the result of incest with another daughter. The coroner says it appears that none of the victims even struggled or tried to escape before being killed.

Witnesses from around California remember Wesson. They say he and his family were nomads, who lived in a camp in the mountains and on an old tugboat in Marin before moving to Fresno a few months ago. The family was hauled around in an old school bus that was parked out in front of the murder scene.

Meantime, the Fresno Police Department says it’s investigating the possibility that the nine people were shot while officers waited outside the home Friday. Police were responding to a custody dispute, and some neighbors say they heard gunshots after the standoff started. However, the officers on the scene deny hearing any weapons fire.

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