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More delays in Mesiti murder trial
Problems with his defense team are causing court delays for former Ceres resident Mark Edward Mesiti who Stanislaus County prosecutors believe deserves to die for killing his 14-year-old daughter in 2006.

Mesiti has been behind bars since March 28, 2009 to stand trial for the first-degree murder of his daughter, Alycia Augusta Mesiti. Authorities say he raped and sexually molested Alycia during 2005 and 2006, and then killed her in August 2006. On March 25, 2009, Ceres Police found her body in the backyard of 3576 Alexis Avenue in Ceres where the family was living at the time of her murder.

On Dec. 17 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.

Death penalty cases require two lawyers defending a suspect. The second lawyer is required because the lawyer handling the trial may blow credibility with the jury after a finding of guilt, so a second attorney would represent the defendant during the sentencing phase.

A new Keenan counsel will be appointed by the court.

The change in the defense team means Mesiti won't appear in court until Feb. 4, the date of a pretrial hearing. At his side will be defense attorney Robert Orenstein - the very attorney Mesiti attempted to have dismissed in July.

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 moved from Ceres about six months after Alycia was reported missing; but three days after the body was unearthed police traced him to a Los Angeles apartment which had been used as a methamphetamine lab. Mesiti's girlfriend, Shelly Welborn helped testify against Mesiti in the drug trial in which he was convicted on March 18, 2011 and sentenced to five years.

He was turned over to Stanislaus County in June of last year.

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. 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 nor 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 Mark 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, drunk driving and bank fraud.

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 handling and turned her over to her father in November 2005 despite his criminal record.

In 2005 Mark 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.