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Fresno mass murder suspect pleads innocent again

Associated Press, USA
Apr. 27, 2004
Juliana Barbassa
www.mercurynews.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Wednesday April 28, 2004

FRESNO, Calif. – A June 21 trial date was set Tuesday for a man accused of killing nine of his children, but an attorney said it’s not clear a trial can begin at that time.

Marcus Wesson, 57, also pleaded innocent Tuesday to nine counts of murder and 13 counts of sexual assault, all of which had to be refiled after authorities consolidated 33 previous counts of sexual assault.

Investigators think the victims, who ranged from a 25-year-old woman to a 1-year-old, were all Wesson’s children. Police said Wesson engaged in incest and polygamy, fathering children with his daughters and nieces.

Testimony from officers who interviewed Wesson’s daughters and nieces after the killings said he exerted extreme control over his family, preaching to them daily and telling them salvation would come only through him.

Wesson’s attorney, Pete Jones, said he hasn’t been given the information he asked for in time to prepare for court appearances. Only after he has had a chance to examine that material, Jones said, will he be able to determine if he can go to trial June 21.

Jones said during a preliminary hearing that he had not been able to properly cross examine police officers because he did not have tape recordings of interviews with relatives. Instead, Jones said, he had to work from summaries of those interviews.

Prosecutor Lisa Gamoian said Jones has the same material she has.

Wesson appeared in court in a yellow jail jumpsuit, with his long dreadlocks hanging over the chains that bound his hands to his waist, but attorneys for both sides agreed he could wear street clothes for future appearances.

Two of Wesson’s sons who have come to court every time their father appears were there Tuesday as well. Almae and Serafino Wesson made no comments as they rushed out of the courtroom.

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