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Mark Mesitis defense hangs on daughters journal
Ceres murder case defendant Mark Mesiti in court last week. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Mark Edward Mesiti's murder trial started Tuesday, Oct. 3 with a Stanislaus County prosecutor saying the District Attorney's office has photographic evidence of him sexually molesting his daughter Alycia Mesiti, of whom he is accused of murdering in 2006.

The girl's body was dug up in Mesiti's Alexis Court backyard nearly three years later when Ceres Police developed suspicions about him killing and burying her on the west Ceres property.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees said Alycia was unconscious at the time of the molestations, which occurred between July 2006 and July 2008. She said police seized his computers, hard drives, memory cards and DVRs which contained photographic images of Mesiti sexually assaulting his daughter while she was blacked out on drugs. They also found other child pornography images and videos on Mesiti's devices.

Mesiti faces the death penalty if convicted of the murder and a total of 44 criminal counts, mostly sexual crimes. However, the last time anyone was executed under the death penalty in California was in 2006.

A toxicological analysis of the remains of the 14-year-old indicated she died from intoxication from a mixture of drugs - opiates, amphetamines, morphine and anti-depressants - and prosecutors said Mark Mesiti is responsible. The exact cause of death has not been determined by the forensic pathologist.

Mesiti's defense attorney, Martin Baker, said that while the girl may have died from a drug overdose, he claims she was a drug addict for two years. Baker is basing his defense on a diary allegedly written by Alycia in which she wrote that if she turned up dead it would be because she killed herself. In one passage, said Baker, the girl wrote that she "wanted to feel nothing."

"Experts will testify that if you want to feel nothing, these are the drugs you take," the attorney told the jury.

He said the way she died her tragic death "will require a not guilty verdict."

The defense plans to call Alycia's brother to verify that her diary was written in her hand.

Rees said the trial -expected to last for months - will include testimony of one of Alycia's friends who noted the girl may have smoked marijuana and drank alcoholic beverages but she stayed away from hard drugs.

Prosecutors will seek to portray Mesiti as a deviant who sexually defiled his daughter after he drugged her. Rees said Mesiti sexually assaulted two other girls who were eight years of age and the other who was both 16 and 17 during the alleged abuse.

Prosecutors will explain that by burying his daughter and lying to police regarding her whereabouts, Mark Mesiti was hiding her murder, not a suicide. The body was wrapped in black plastic sheeting and buried in the yard before Mesiti was evicted and moved to Los Angeles. Police exhumed the backyard in March 2009.

On Thursday, Ceres Police Sgt. Jason Coley detailed the evidence he and other officers discovered at both Mesiti's Ceres home and Bentley Avenue apartment in Los Angeles. Coley was quizzed by both Rees and Baker about the contents of a box marked "Keepsakes" that contained five journals which Alycia kept as well as an Ozzy Osbourne bobblehead. Coley stated that the apartment was in messy condition with computer parts and electronic devices in just about every room.

At one moment, Rees turned to select audience members and shook her head before having images of the exhumation projected onto the screen for the jury to see. Mesiti, who had been looking up at slides of evidence seized, would not look up. One slide showed the intact and decayed body of Alycia after the black tarp she was wrapped in was slit open by then Chief Deputy Coroner Kristi Ah You. Other photos showed soiled items removed from the body during the autopsy, including a shirt, cutoff jeans and a bracelet.

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 sentenced to five years.

Alycia had been reported missing two days after her alleged Aug. 13, 2006 disappearance. Mark 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 Mesiti claimed to receive periodic calls from Alycia who assured her things were okay.

In October 2008 Ceres Police sergeants contacted the Ceres Courier to have an article published for public help in finding Alycia Mesiti -while Mark Mesiti was claiming knowing nothing about her fate.

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. On Sept. 15, 2005 Alycia had been enrolled by her father to attend Central Valley High School 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 she did not believe her daughter ran away and suspected foul play. That's when Ceres Police stepped up their investigation and brought in a cadaver-detecting canine named "C.J." to sniff out the backyard for human remains. The body was found buried in the dirt a few feet from the edge of the patio.