Daughter testifies on family death pact

Gypsy Wesson, 21, tells jury that her father touched her through her clothes.

Gypsy Wesson told a Fresno jury Tuesday that her father, Marcus Wesson, ordered his children to carry out a murder-suicide pact if authorities came to split up the family.

Her testimony seemed eerily close to what allegedly happened inside the Wesson home a year ago, when nine children were killed.

Gypsy Wesson, 21, also told jurors in Fresno County Superior Court that she is still concerned for the welfare of her surviving family members.

As early as last fall, she told police that she still feared her father would somehow give family members a signal for them to commit suicide, she told jurors.

Marcus Wesson, 58, is charged with killing nine children inside his home near Roeding Park on March 12, 2004. He also faces 14 counts of sexually abusing his daughters and nieces.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Gypsy Wesson, who is listed as a victim in one of the sex charges, is testifying for the prosecution. Her testimony resumes today in Judge R.L. Putnam’s courtroom.

Like other family members, Gypsy Wesson was a reluctant witness who tried to clarify tape-recorded statements made to police detectives.

At first, Gypsy Wesson insisted that her father never molested or raped her. But after prosecutor Lisa Gamoian read to Gypsy Wesson her statements to police, she testified that she was 7 years old when her father started touching her private areas over her clothes. She said he never had sex with her.

Gypsy Wesson, however, was firm in her testimony about her father’s dislike for Child Protective Services and his murder-suicide talks with family members.

“He would not let anyone take us away,” Gypsy Wesson told jurors. “He would rather have us die than be separated.”

Though there was no specific plan, Gypsy Wesson said, it was understood that the older children would kill the younger ones and then kill themselves.

The murder-suicide agreement nearly was carried out about five years ago, when the family lived on a boat moored in the Tomales Bay in Northern California, Gypsy Wesson told jurors.

While her father was away, a white vehicle kept passing by the boat, Gypsy Wesson testified. Because everyone was scared of the intruders, they began making plans to commit suicide, she told jurors.

Gypsy Wesson said everyone got dressed and wrote suicide notes. She testified that her note said: “We did this ourselves. It’s nobody’s fault. We don’t want to be separated.”

She said her cousin, Sofina Solorio, nervously put bullets in Marcus Wesson’s gun, which was retrieved from a leather bag.

“I guess she was going to kill everyone,” Gypsy Wesson testified.

The mass suicide never happened, Gypsy Wesson testified, because her sisters, Kiani and Sebhrenah Wesson, got hold of their father, who called it off.

Her account of the boat incident is similar to that of other witnesses who have testified since the trial began on March 3.

Testimony has revealed that the killings on March 12, 2004, were sparked when Wesson’s nieces, Sofina Solorio and Ruby Ortiz, came to the Wesson home to reclaim their children. Years before, the two women had given their children to Wesson to raise.

Because police could not settle the dispute, officers told Wesson that CPS would be summoned to the scene, testimony has revealed.

Gypsy Wesson told jurors that her father often said that “it would be better to be taken to the Lord” than for the family to be split. She said the phrase meant “we would all die.”

Gypsy Wesson said her father believed that “government was bad, and he did not want us tainted by the outside world, and we should always be together.”

She told jurors that neither her mother, Elizabeth Wesson, nor anyone else in the household ever questioned him about the murder-suicide pact, but she thought it was “kind of dumb.”

She said, “I never thought it would happen.”

Gypsy Wesson said she left her family in July 2003, about eight months before the killings, because she wanted to go to school and have “a different life.” Her father, she said, did not want her to go to school or talk with young men or date.

She said she “exaggerated” her statements to police detectives about being molested because she was angry at her father, believing he was responsible for the slayings.

As time passed, she told jurors, “the evidence” shows he did not do it.

She also recalled that her father once dispatched her sister, Sebhrenah, and her cousin, Rosa Solorio, to look for her at work. After they found her, Gypsy Wesson agreed to talk to her father inside the family car.

Gypsy Wesson testified that her father asked her whether she would be able to “drop everything and die for the Lord.”

She said she snapped back: “You’re not the Lord, and it’s not right to tell people when it’s time.”

Gypsy Wesson said she tricked her father into letting her leave. She never returned to the family home.

After some coaxing by the prosecution, Gypsy Wesson admitted that her father touched her inappropriately during one-on-one sessions of “loving.”

Like other witnesses, Gypsy Wesson told police that Marcus Wesson believed that “loving was his way to teach the girls how to please a man so when they get married, they know how to please their husband.”

She said all of the girls agreed to “loving,” but she felt “a little bit uncomfortable.” She allowed her father to touch her because “I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently.”

Gypsy Wesson also confirmed that her father was a polygamist, saying he “married” his nieces Ruby Ortiz and Rosa Solorio.

She testified that her father purchased rings for Ortiz and Rosa Solorio, as well as for daughters Kiani and Sebhrenah and Sofina Solorio, but she was told they were “friendship rings.”

When the girls got pregnant, she was told they went to a “sperm bank” and underwent “artificial insemination.” She said she never inquired about the identify of the father.

Testimony has revealed the Marcus Wesson was the father of the slain children. The mother included his wife, daughters Kiani and Sebhrenah, and nieces Rosa and Sofina Solorio, and Ruby Ortiz.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Fresno Bee, USA
Apr. 13, 2005
Pablo Lopez

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday April 14, 2005.
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