Fresno, CA — Marcus Wesson, the domineering patriarch of a clan he bred through incest, was found guilty Friday of murdering nine of his children, whose bodies were found in a bloody pile last year at the end of a police standoff.
The jurors wrestled with the evidence for more than two weeks since deliberations began June 2.
Ultimately the jury decided that Wesson was guilty even though the government did not prove he personally pulled the trigger on the gun that shot all the victims through their eyes.
The verdicts bring some closure to the worst murder case ever seen in this agricultural town in the heart of California´s Central Valley.
Police were horrified by what they found when they finally entered the rundown home in east Fresno.
Officers had been summoned there March 12, 2004, by friends of Sofina Solorio and Ruby Ortiz, two Wesson nieces who had returned to the home they had escaped from for the children they´d been forced to leave behind.
Wesson talked with officers for about an hour at the front door, then went into the back bedroom and shut the door.
Solorio and Ortiz despaired, crying and screaming and begging officers to intervene. About an hour and 20 minutes later, Wesson emerged, blood on his clothing, and turned himself in.
In the bedroom was a scene that shocked even veteran officers.
They pulled out the bodies of Sebhrenah Wesson, her son and brother Marshey, the teenager Elizabeth Wesson, and children ranging in age from 9 to 1 – Aviv Wesson, Jonathan Wesson, Illabelle Wesson, Ethan Wesson, Sedona Wesson and Jeva Wesson.
Wesson´s surviving children provided plenty of testimony about how much control Wesson had over his large clan.
He had preached to the family daily, weaving a dogma of polygamy and incest from his own interpretations of the Bible and Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.
He was particularly severe with the young women, who were home-schooled and had almost no contact with anyone outside the family, they testified.
The women and girls had to dress modestly, and Wesson beat them if he learned they´d spoken with men, even their own brothers and cousins.
Wesson molested them continuously from age 7 or 8, according to testimony, took any money they earned, and even dictated what they could eat.