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Mesiti off to prison for life
Convicted of murder and numerous sex crimes, former Ceres resident Mark Mesiti covers his face as he enters the court for sentencing in early 2018. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Mark Edward Mesiti will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the 2006 death of his 14-year-old daughter Alycia Mesiti, and a lengthy list of sexual crimes against her and two Los Angeles girls, who were 8 and 16 at the time. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Frenchie Reeves ruled on Friday that Mesiti cannot retract guilty pleas he entered on Oct. 16 nor receive a new trial and immediately sentenced him.

The aggravated sentence included a life in prison without the possibility of parole for the homicide in the commission of sex crimes, concurrent with a 30-years-to-life sentence for lewd acts with a minor, and a consecutive sentence of 234 years and eight months for repeated sex crimes against the three girls.

Judge Reeves said she would impose fully consecutive sentences "because of the repeated attack against multiple victims on multiple occasions. The defendant's attacks on three different young girls occurred over a long period of time, in different places, at different times and involved multiple independent and separate threats of harm."

She said Mesiti repeatedly rendered all three victims unconscious by administering intoxicants "displaying an extremely high degree of cruelty and callousness."

"Most disturbing to know, as an aggravating factor," said Judge Reeves, "is the fact that the defendant continued to prey upon children even after he literally molested his own daughter to death. He wrapped her in a plastic bag or baggie, left her to rot in his backyard ..." At that point, Mesiti's attorney, Steven O'Connor, interrupted the judge before she ended her sentence. She warned O'Connor to be quiet and finished. "Even after completing the horrendous act he continued to right on preying on children in the same manner that took the life of his daughter. This demonstrates the level of depravity and callousness and the lack of remorse that is shocking to the conscience. No child within the defendant's reach is safe at any time. The court found no mitigating factors."

Mesiti lost his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas on his claim that his former attorney, Martin Baker, had rendered him "ineffective counsel." After a recent three-day proceeding, in which O'Connor argued that Baker was incompetent and indifferent to Mesiti, Judge Reeves said she was not compelled to delay justice.

"The defendant has made no showing of coercion, duress, fraud or anything else that caused the overreaching of his free will and free judgement," Judge Reeves said, noting that O'Connor failed to demonstrate that Baker gave Mesiti ineffective counsel.

"It is clear that Mr. Mesiti's guilty pleas were both strategically calculated, entirely knowing and completely voluntary," the judge said Friday.

Mesiti's murder trial started Oct. 3 and was only two weeks old when he halted the proceedings to take a plea bargain that allowed him to dodge the death penalty in lieu of a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole. He also had to publicly read an elocution statement listing in explicit detail the sexual abuse he inflicted on his daughter, Alycia Mesiti, in Ceres, from July 2005 through May 2006 for the purpose of rendering her unconscious so he could sexually assault her. He admitted in court that he repeatedly gave Alycia various drugs, including prescription anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, morphine and methadone, and that he committed rape, sodomy, oral copulation and digital penetration. Mesiti also admitted that his administration of those drugs caused Alycia's death. He also admitted sexually molesting the two girls while living in Los Angeles.

Sentencing was originally to take place on Nov. 28 but Judge Reeves granted a postponement after O'Connor motioned to withdraw the guilty pleas.

During the aborted trial Chief Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees stated that Mesiti was in possession of hundreds of thousands of child pornography images. Hundreds of images showed Mesiti's daughter being sexually assaulted by him after she was drugged by her father. Videos also showed Mesiti set up a hidden camera in the bedroom of an 8-year-old girl who lived in a Los Angeles apartment with him and his girlfriend at the time. Other videos and images showed Mesiti sexually assaulting a drugged 16-year-old female Mesiti had befriended.

Judge Reeves allowed Alycia's sister, Elena Velazquez to read a victim's impact statement.

"In so little time of being a child, Mark Mesiti ruined my life," said Velazquez, who was eight when her sister died. "Everything was not hidden from me. I knew, I could feel that Mark was a bad man and when my sister was missing, my world fell apart and when she was found it opened up a whole other world - neither world that I never would have been exposed if the justice system had helped us."

She told the court that she battles depression from what Mesiti had put the family through.

"I wish that I could just have a beautiful future, just like every child should have. Every human being deserves a good life. I'm just really glad Alycia is getting her justice because she is not here because of him."

Reeves allowed Rees to play a recorded statement of one of the unnamed victims who was 16 at the time she was molested by Mesiti.

"I feel like there's one specific photo that is burned into my brain that I can't get out of my head at all," the victim said on the recording. "Never would anybody in their right mind would do something like that to somebody, let alone their own child and I honestly think he should have got the death penalty and treated like an animal."

At that moment, Mesiti's sister jumped out of her seat and protested, saying, "Ok, I'm leaving. This is wrong." The bailiffs moved toward her and escorted her out as she continued disrupting the court. "They made a deal. This is disgusting. My brother's innocent. You won't test the DNA underneath my niece's fingernails. I want to know who killed my niece. This is lies. Look at Oil City - that girl has been arrested multiple times. This is a big sham. How could you do this?"

With the disruption over, the judge asked anyone who could not contain themselves to leave or be removed. Rees continued playing the tape with Jane Doe #2 related how Mesiti started her on a life of drug abuse and how she left the state out of fear for him. She explained that Mesiti has caused her to not trust men and that she cannot have a stable relationship with anyone.
"I hope he rots in hell and hope ... the same thing happens to him in prison. I want you to suffer and die in there."

Rees had her chance to read a statement before sentencing, called Mesiti "a monster."

"These girls were all innocent, trusting and vulnerable," said Rees, "and the defendant did unspeakable things to them." She said he "carefully guarded" pornographic images of them as "souvenirs."

The sentencing was a great relief to Alycia's maternal great-aunt, Roberta Fitzpatrick of San Jose, who has been keeping up with court proceedings since June 2011.

"This is wonderful - it's over," said Fitzpatrick.

Alycia's body was dug up in the backyard of Mesiti's rented Alexis Court home in March 2009 - nearly three years later after she was reported missing.

Alycia was reported missing two days after her alleged Aug. 13, 2006 disappearance. Mark Mesiti told Ceres Police that Alycia traveled to the San Jose area on August 11, 2006, to spend the weekend with a friend and claimed she phoned home on August 13 to report she had instead gone camping with other friends but refused to disclose her location. Mesiti periodically told Ceres police investigators that Alycia had been in contact but didn't say where she was. Alycia's mother, Roberta Allen told police she did not believe her daughter ran away and suspected foul play. Their growing suspicions caused them to bring a cadaver-detecting canine to the Alexis Court backyard for human remains. They unearthed Alycia's body, wrapped in black material, just feet from the edge of the patio.

Mesiti was arrested by Ceres Police in Los Angeles three days after the exhumation of his daughter's body. Mesiti had 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. Shelly Welborn, Mesiti's girlfriend at the time, testified against Mesiti in the drug trial in which he was sentenced to five years.

In 2005 Mesiti moved from the Bay Area to the neighborhood just blocks from Sinclear Elementary School. 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.

The case against Mesiti has been fraught with delays since he was transferred to the Stanislaus County Jail after serving a sentence in Los Angeles for his drug conviction.

In late 2012, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge John Freeland relieved 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.

In October 2015 Mesiti wanted to represent himself in court but it became apparent to prosecutors that he was only trying to delay the process. Two years later he sought counsel and was appointed Martin Baker and Bob Wildman.

Mesiti originally claimed his daughter was molested and murdered by an acquaintance, Gregory Joseph Ulrich, who has since died of cancer. Ulrich reportedly had been released from jail three days prior to Alycia's believed murder date. Ulrich was a registered sex offender who worked for Mesiti's home-based computer business on Faith Home Road.