Judge says jury will begin deliberating in mass murder trial next week.

Jurors will begin deliberating the fate of accused mass murderer Marcus Wesson next week, a Fresno County Superior Court judge said Wednesday.

Judge R.L. Putnam said he expects testimony to be completed Tuesday, followed by closing arguments and jury deliberations. Putnam’s announcement means Wesson likely won’t testify.

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

If convicted of the multiple murders, he could get the death penalty. Wesson has pleaded not guilty.

After a short session Wednesday, Putnam sent jurors home for the long Memorial Day weekend, telling them to return Tuesday. The prosecution’s case started on March 3 and ended Monday. Prosecutor Lisa Gamoian called about 65 witnesses; Wesson’s lawyers, so far, have called seven witnesses.

Wesson’s lawyers, Peter Jones and Ralph Torres, have declined to say whether their client will testify, but Putnam’s announced schedule for next week indicates that Wesson won’t testify.

Wesson talked with detectives for several hours, and early in the investigation, Police Chief Jerry Dyer described him as “very intelligent, very articulate and very well-spoken.”

Next week, Gamoian can call witnesses to rebut testimony by defense witnesses. She also could play Wesson’s tape-recorded police interviews for the jury. So far, she has declined.

On Wednesday, Putnam covered a few outstanding issues left in the trial.

He rejected a request by Wesson’s lawyers for jurors to tour the Wesson home to help them understand the layout of the crime scene. Gamoian opposed the tour, saying “it would be pointless” because the crime scene could not be replicated.

Putnam agreed that both sides have done “more than an adequate job” of giving jurors a portrait of the home at the time of the killings.

Another issue is whether Allen Boudreau, a retired Fresno sheriff’s official who helped solve the 1992 slayings of the Ewell family in Fresno, can testify about a black mark discovered on Sebhrenah Wesson’s right little finger.

Outside the presence of the jury, Torres told Putnam that Boudreau will testify that the bolt action from the murder weapon — a .22-caliber Ruger pistol — left the black mark on Sebhrenah’s little finger.

The testimony is crucial to the defense theory that Sebhrenah Wesson fatally shot her eight siblings and then committed suicide, Torres said. Defense lawyers, however, didn’t turn over Boudreau’s findings to Gamoian in a timely manner; she learned of Boudreau’s findings this week.

Putnam said he will rule on the admissability of Boudreau’s testimony after Gamoian cross-examines Boudreau today.

No objections were raised regarding the testimony of Venu Gopal, a pathologist for the Fresno County Coroner’s Office, who told jurors Wednesday that the wound to Sebhrenah’s right eye could have been self-inflicted.

Gopal said the Ruger pistol’s front gunsight left an impression to the left of Sebhrenah’s right eye. The impression is called a “hard contact” because the muzzle was embedded in the skin, Gopal said.

A vast majority of suicides have hard contact wounds, with the victims showing no signs of a struggle, Gopal said. In the Wesson case, Sebhrenah showed no signs of struggling with a shooter, Gopal said.

Testimony has revealed that Wesson was the father of the slain children. The mothers include his wife, Elizabeth; daughters Kiani and Sebhrenah; and nieces Sofina and Rosa Solorio and Ruby Ortiz.

The slayings occurred when Sofina Solorio and Ortiz tried to reclaim their children from Marcus Wesson, testimony has shown.

After an 80-minute police standoff, Wesson emerged from his home with blood on his clothes. Officers then discovered the bodies stacked in a corner of a rear bedroom.

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Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Fresno Bee, USA
May 26, 2005
Pablo Lopez
www.fresnobee.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Friday May 27, 2005.
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