Father convicted of murdering 9 of his children

Wesson’s conviction on nine counts of first-degree murder makes him eligible for the death penalty.

FRESNO, California (AP) — Marcus Wesson, the domineering patriarch of a clan bred through incest, was convicted Friday of murdering nine of his children, whose bodies were found in a bloody pile last year at the end of a police standoff.

Wesson’s conviction on nine counts of first-degree murder makes him eligible for the death penalty. He also was found guilty on all 14 counts of raping and molesting seven of his underage daughters and nieces.

The jurors started deliberations on June 2, ultimately deciding that Wesson himself pulled the trigger.

The defense had argued that Sebhrenah Wesson, 25 — the oldest to die — killed herself as well as her siblings and the 1-year-old son she had with her father.

Many of Wesson’s surviving family members still support him, and stifled sobs as a clerk read the verdicts. Wesson himself remained quiet and still.

Several witnesses testified that Wesson had repeatedly coached the children to be ready to kill each other and themselves if authorities ever threatened to break up the clan.

The prosecution said Wesson had plenty of time to shoot his children during the 80-minute standoff with police on March 12, 2004. He had closed himself in a back bedroom with the victims, keeping out mothers whose attempt to get their children out of the home had prompted the police standoff.

Prosecutor Lisa Gamoian said in closing arguments that even if Sebhrenah Wesson did pull the trigger, Marcus Wesson should still be found guilty if he encouraged her to kill them, or was part of a conspiracy that led to their slaughter.

The verdict read by the court clerk said the panelists concluded he fired the murder weapon.

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AP, via CNN.com, USA
June 17, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday June 18, 2005.
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