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Wesson children shot in the face

The Fresno Bee, USA
Mar. 23, 2004
Pablo Lopez
www.fresnobee.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday March 24, 2004

Coroner reveals cause of death in seven cases on death certificates.

Seven children of accused killer Marcus Wesson were shot in the face March 12, and death occurred within minutes, death certificates made public Monday showed.

The certificates, which ruled each death a homicide, are key evidence against Wesson, who is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on charges of murdering nine of his children. He has yet to secure an attorney.

Filed with the Fresno County Department of Health, the certificates are for Sebhrenah April Wesson, 25; Elizabeth Breani Kina Wesson, 17; Illabelle Carrie Wesson, 8; Ethan St. Laurent Wesson, 4; Sedona Vadra Wesson, 11/2; Marshey St. Christopher Wesson, 11/2; and Jeva St. Vladensvspry Wesson, 1.

They will be cremated Wednesday at Belmont Memorial Park in Fresno, and their ashes will be turned over to their families.

Death certificates for Aviv Dominique Wesson and Johnathon St. Charles Wesson, both 7, have not yet been filed. For six of the seven victims, the certificates said, the immediate cause of death was “perforation of brain” caused by a gunshot wound to the face; Illabelle died of a “contusion of the brain” after being shot in the face.

All nine victims were fathered by Marcus Wesson with six women, including his daughters Sebhrenah and Kiani Wesson and three of his nieces — Sofina Solorio, Ruby Sanchez and Rosie Solorio — a source close to the investigation said.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Monday the Fresno County coroner’s ruling each death a homicide “supports our case.”

Dyer said, “We have always said Wesson was responsible for all nine murders. But we also left open the possibility that someone else is involved.”

Robert Hensel, Fresno County chief deputy coroner, said the victims were all shot by another person on March 12, but he could not pinpoint the time of death.

Coroner Loralee Cervantes said it’s nearly impossible to establish the exact time of death in most cases. She said pathologist Venu Gopal, who performed all nine autopsies, will give his opinion and a timeline of when he believes the victims died when Wesson is tried in court.

When that will happen is anyone’s guess.

Wesson, 57, has delayed his arraignment twice in Fresno County Superior Court. He told Judge Brant Bramer last week that he doesn’t want a public defender; he wants to hire Fresno lawyers David Mugridge and Gary Harvey.

Mugridge said Monday he spoke with Wesson and members of Wesson’s family Saturday to determine whether he has enough money to pay for a private attorney.

“The real issue is, can he afford to hire private counsel?” Mugridge said. Police have said Wesson is unemployed; he depended on the mothers of his children to give him money.

Mugridge would not characterize his conversation with Wesson but said he is closer to deciding whether to represent Wesson in the potential capital case. He hopes to meet with Wesson at least once more before making his decision.

Mugridge has a busy court calendar; he is defending 29-year-old Jesus Lopez, who is accused along with two others of killing Fowler teen D.J. Hunter two years ago. Mugridge argued pretrial motions in that case Monday.

Mugridge hoped to interview Wesson during a break in Lopez’s case. He represented Wesson at a court hearing last week but was unsure whether he would attend Wesson’s arraignment Thursday.

The seven certificates represent more evidence of a rift in Wesson’s family because of the slayings and allegations of polygamy and incest. Of the seven certificates, only Sebhrenah’s and Elizabeth’s name their parents — Marcus and Elizabeth Wesson.

The other certificates name only the mothers; the name of the father is listed as “unknown.” Ethan’s and Sedona’s mother is Rosie Solorio; Jeva’s and Illabelle’s mother is Kiani Wesson; and Marshey’s mother was Sebhrenah.

The source said Ruby Sanchez is Aviv’s mother and Sofina Solorio is Johnathon’s mother.

On March 12, Ruby Sanchez and Sofina Solorio went to Wesson’s home at 761 W. Hammond Ave. near Roeding Park to reclaim their children.

After police arrived, Wesson barricaded himself inside a room with nine of his children. He emerged with blood on his clothes and surrendered to police. Officers then found nine bodies in the room.

The death certificates said the victims were pronounced dead at 5 p.m.

Since the slayings, the community has responded with donations to victims’ families and with a large memorial of flowers, stuffed animals, figurines, religious candles and other items outside the crime scene. Family friends held a carwash at McKinley and Palm avenues to raise money for the family.

State property records show Rosa Solorio, who is a close friend of Wesson’s, bought the Hammond Avenue property in September for $100,000.

Charlie Clark, a broker with Coldwell-Banker Dan Blough & Associates in Fresno, said he met in December with Marcus Wesson, who wanted to sell the property .

Clark described Wesson as all business, but “very cordial and polite.”

“He was articulate, sharp, and very thoughtful in his expressions,” Clark said.

City officials said the Wesson family faced eviction March 12 because it was using a building zoned as an office for a home.

Though the home is in a commercial zone, Clark said Wesson and others were trying to have the zoning changed to residential.

Since the slayings, city officials said they would consider purchasing the home. Clark said he would be willing to negotiate with city leaders.

The 1,070-square-foot office, which has been on and off the market since December, was listed at $139,500. The building has three offices, two bathrooms, a reception area and parking. The Solorio family recently asked Clark to reduce the price. It is now listed for $131,500, Clark said.

“The sellers want to get the property sold,” Clark said. “I had a couple phone calls from people who wanted a run at it cheap. A couple of greedy people who were quick to jump on somebody else’s misfortunes.”

The family did not tell Clark how it would use proceeds from the property sale: “To the best of my knowledge, it is not Mr. Wesson’s money, but I don’t know what kind of arrangements they had.”

Bee staff writers Matt Leedy and Marc Benjamin contributed to this story.

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