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Jury in place, Mesiti murder trial to begin
Mark Mesiti is accused of drugging, molesting and murdering his own daughter in 2006.

A jury has been selected for next week's murder trial in Stanislaus County Superior Court for former Ceres resident Mark Edward Mesiti. He is accused of sexually molesting and killing his 14-year-old daughter over a decade ago before burying her in his Ceres backyard.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney's office is seeking the death penalty in the murder of Alycia Augusta Mesiti. Prosecutors say Mesiti raped and sexually molested Alycia during 2005 and 2006, and killed her in August 2006. Ceres Police found her body in the backyard of 3576 Alexis Avenue in Ceres where she was living at the time of her murder.

Mesiti has been behind bars in Stanislaus County since March 28, 2009 and yet to stand trial - partly because of the delays he has caused in representing himself. The defendant has aggravated the court and prosecutors with his series of delays. On Dec. 17, 2012 Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge John Freeland agreed to relieve Mesiti defense attorney Robert Chase from the case. Chase announced to the court that he had a potential conflict of interest. Chase was designated as Mesiti's "Keenan counsel," or the attorney who would represent Mesiti during the penalty phase should a jury find him guilty. Chase said he did not wish to abandon Mesiti but was forced to do so.

Mesiti faces the death penalty if convicted of the murder and a total of 44 criminal counts, mostly sexual abuse charges. Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees has charged Mesiti with sexually assaulting two other female victims. The girls were not identified but their ages were listed as eight years of age and the other who was both 16 and 17 during the alleged abuse. The seven felony charges involving his alleged actions against the girls -- between July 2006 and July 2008 -- include unlawful sexual intercourse, committing lewd acts on a child, and furnishing illegal narcotics to a minor.

Mesiti was arrested by Ceres Police in Los Angeles three days after his daughter's body was discovered. Mesiti moved from Ceres about six months after Alycia was reported missing but police traced him to a Los Angeles apartment which had been used by him as a methamphetamine lab. Mesiti's girlfriend, Shelly Welborn helped testify against Mesiti in the drug trial in which he was convicted and sentenced to five years.

Authorities say Mark Mesiti drugged Alycia from July 2005 through May 2006 so that he could commit lewd and sexual acts with her.

Alycia had been reported missing two days after her alleged Aug. 13, 2006 disappearance. Mesiti told police that Alycia traveled to the San Jose area on August 11, 2006, to spend the weekend with a friend and that she telephoned on August 13, reporting that she had instead gone camping with other friends but would not disclose her location or who she was with. Police say Mr. Mesiti claimed to receive periodic calls from Alycia who assured her things were okay.

Police previously stated that Alycia had been molested by a friend of the family previous to her disappearance. Detectives interviewed Gregory Joseph Ulrich of Modesto who served time in jail for also molesting Alycia. Ulrich, who is known by Mesiti, served a year in jail after being convicted of the molestation. He reportedly had been released three days prior to Alycia's disappearance.

Mesiti's criminal record includes domestic violence against Alycia's mother, Roberta Allen, drunken driving and bank fraud. Despite his record, in November 2005 Mark was awarded custody of Alycia. The girl reportedly did not get along with her mother, Roberta Allen, who has a history of mental depression and attempted suicide. Court officials expressed concerns about Alycia's supervision and turned her over to her father.

In 2005 Mesiti moved from the Bay Area to Alexis Avenue, a neighborhood west of Morgan Road and just blocks from Sinclear Elementary. Alycia had been enrolled by her father to attend Central Valley High School on Sept. 15, 2005, but never attended. On Oct. 6, 2005 CUSD received a request for her records to be sent to Harbor High School in Santa Cruz.

Roberta Allen told Ceres police that she did not believe her daughter ran away and suspected foul play. That's when police stepped up their investigation of the property and brought in a cadaver-detecting canine. The body was found near the patio buried under feet of dirt.