Prosecution phase of Wesson trial ends

Psychologists will not testify, judge rules.

Two psychologists will not testify for the prosecution in the murder trial of Marcus Wesson because their testimony “would create substantial prejudice” toward the defendant, a Fresno County Superior Court judge ruled this morning.

Judge R.L. Putnam said Dr. J. Reid Meloy’s and Dr. Kris Mohandie’s potential testimony about “mind control” and “brainwashing” also would mislead the jury and confuse the issue as to whether Wesson committed the murders.

Because of Putnam’s ruling, the prosecution will rest its case; Wesson’s lawyers will start calling witnesses this afternoon.

Wesson, 58, is charged with killing nine of his children inside his central Fresno home during a child custody dispute on March 12, 2004. He also is accused of sexually abusing his daughters and nieces.

If convicted of the multiple murders, Wesson could get the death penalty. He has pleaded not guilty. Testimony has revealed that Wesson was the father of the slain children; the mothers include his wife, Elizabeth, daughters Kiani and Sebhrenah, and nieces Rosa and Sofina Solorio and Ruby Ortiz.

Meloy and Mohandie were expected to finalize prosecutor Lisa Gamoian’s case by showing how Wesson’s behavior allegedly resulted in the slayings of his children.

Since the start of testimony on March 3, witnesses have said that Wesson proclaimed he was Jesus and used the Bible, sex and beatings to get what he wanted.

In his ruling, Putnam said he was concerned about whether Meloy and Mohandie were qualified to speak on the subjects of “mind control” and “brainwashing.” The judge also questioned whether the two prosecution experts used the correct scientific procedure or methodology to reach their conclusions about Wesson.

Putnam noted the psychologists never interviewed Wesson, but relied on Wesson’s writing, transcripts of Wesson’s police interviews and Wesson’s statements to relatives during jailhouse visits.

Putnam also said he was concerned that Gamoian didn’t provide Wesson’s lawyers with timely reports to give the defense enough opportunity to rebut Meloy’s and Mohandie’s potential testimony.

In his conclusion, Putnam said there was no consensus in the scientific community about “mind control” or “brainwashing.” And while the potential testimony may be “food for thought” in Meloy’s and Mohandie’s line of work it was not legally acceptable, Putnam said.

Because of the ruling, Gamoian told Putnam that the only piece of evidence left in the prosecution’s case is for Wesson’s lawyers to agree on a stipulation regarding DNA evidence found on a .22-caliber Ruger pistol.

The DNA evidence is that of Sebhrenah Wesson’s, Gamoian told jurors in opening statements. Police found the gun underneath Sebhrenah’s body.

While Gamoian contends Marcus Wesson shot his children, Wesson’s lawyers, Ralph Torres and Peter Jones, argue Sebhrenah, 25, killed her eight siblings and then fatally shot herself.

So far, several witnesses, including Wesson’s family members, have testified that Wesson preached a murder-suicide pact that would be carried out if authorities came to split up the family.

But the witnesses also said Wesson never explained how the murder-suicide pact would be carried out or taught them how to use a gun.

The slayings were sparked when Sofina Solorio and Ortiz went to the Wesson home to reclaim their children. Years before, the women had given their children to Wesson to raise.

Wesson, wearing bloody clothes, was arrested after an 80-minute standoff with police. After his arrest, officers found the nine bodies stacked in the corner of a rear bedroom.

Check for updates throughout the day and read The Fresno Bee tomorrow for further details.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Fresno Bee, USA
May 23, 2005
Pablo Lopez

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday May 23, 2005.
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