The Nov. 28 sentencing date for Mark Edward Mesiti, the man convicted of killing his 14-year-old daughter and burying her in the backyard of a Ceres home in 2006, was pushed back until Thursday, Jan. 18.
Mesiti's new attorney, Steven O'Connor, requested that sentencing be postponed as the defendant seeks to withdraw pleading guilty to 49 charges on Oct. 17. The guilty pleas were part of an agreement to allow Mesiti to escape a death penalty sentencing for a life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Mesiti's trial was only weeks old when he stunned with the admission, and publicly read a statement listing in explicit detail the sexual abuse he inflicted on his daughter, Alycia Mesiti, in Ceres, and the two girls while he lived in Los Angeles. Sentencing was to take place last week but Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves granted a postponement.
O'Connor has indicated that Mesiti made the admission as the result of the incompetency of his previous court-appointed attorney, Martin Baker.
The prosecutor in the case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees, believes Mesiti's latest court move is only attempting to delay sentencing. She called Mesiti a "highly manipulative, evil man" who has no regard for the victims and their families.
Mesiti's trial started Oct. 3 with Rees stating that a forensic computer examination showed Mesiti was in possession of hundreds of thousands of child pornography images. Hundreds of images showed Mesiti's daughter being sexually assaulted by him while she was unconscious. Videos also showed the defendant 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 a 16-year-old female Mesiti had befriended being sexually assaulted.
On Oct. 16 Mesiti pled guilty to all the charges and publicly admitted that from July 2005 through May 2006 he had given controlled substances, including prescription anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, morphine and methadone, to his 14-year-old daughter for the purpose of rendering her unconscious so he could sexually assault her. Mesiti told the court he committed rape, sodomy, oral copulation, digital penetration and child molestation involving his daughter, Alycia, many times over several different occasions. He admitted having given Alycia drugs on each occasion to make her unable to resist his attacks. Mesiti also admitted that his administration of those drugs caused Alycia's death.
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 with him. Alycia's mother, Roberta Allen told Ceres police she did not believe her daughter ran away and suspected foul play. Their growing suspicions caused them to introduce a cadaver-detecting canine named "C.J." to sniff out the Alexis Court backyard for human remains. They unearthed the body wrapped in black material just feet from the edge of the patio.
In court in October, Martin Baker, Mesiti's defense attorney at the time, claimed that Alycia had been addicted to drugs for two years and died from an overdose of drugs. Baker cited a diary entry made by the girl 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." A friend of the girl's testified that Alycia may have smoked marijuana but never did hard drugs.
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, helped testify against Mesiti in the drug trial in which he was sentenced to five years.
Mesiti's criminal history 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.
Alycia's maternal great-aunt, Roberta Fitzpatrick of San Jose, suggested that Mesiti - who she called"a snake in the grass" and an evil man - was only trying to delay justice.
Fitzpatrick said a family court judge in San Jose, "without any evidence," declared Roberta Allen unfit to care for Alycia in November 2005 because of depression and awarded custody to Mesiti, who had a prior domestic violence, drunken driving and federal bank fraud charges.
"She had been essentially terrorized by Mark Mesiti for years and he blindsided her and took away her kids," claimed Fitzpatrick, who termed Family Court "a real cesspool."
"He had an attorney and she didn't. She had a good relationship with the kids. She was the only one who supported them all those years."
Fitzpatrick said that in 2004 Alycia was sent to be cared for by her grandmother in Maine because "Roberta (Allen) was afraid Mark was going to hurt them and he had hurt her."
After she finished the 2004-05 school year in Maine, Alycia returned to California in July 2005. A little over a year later Alycia was dead.
"Mark had been working behind the scenes and had an emergency order to have custody - no proof or anything - and she had been fighting ever since. He's a snake in the grass. He's evil."
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 delaying the process every step of the way. Two years later he sought counsel and was appointed Martin Baker and Bob Wildman.
Mesiti originally said 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.