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New charges against Fresno slay suspect

Marcus Wesson, accused of killing nine of his children, was charged Wednesday with 33 new counts, all alleging long-term sexual abuse.
Reporters try to talk to Almae Wesson, right, and Serafino Wesson, center, on Wednesday in Fresno, Calif. The brothers attended a court appearance by their father, Marcus Wesson, accused of killing nine of his children.Richard Darby / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A man accused of killing nine of his children was charged Wednesday with 33 new counts, all alleging long-term sexual abuse and some dating as far back as 1988.

The new charges against Marcus Wesson include multiple counts of continuous sexual abuse and forcible rape against females who lived with him. The documents do not specify whether the women were family members but say five of the six victims were under 14 when the attacks occurred.

Wesson, 57, already is charged with murdering eight children ages 1 to 17, as well as a 25-year-old daughter who police said was the mother of one of the slain children. The victims’ bodies were found piled on top of each other.

Wesson has pleaded innocent and is being held in lieu of $9 million bail. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Hearing set for Thursday
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Thursday. Judge Lawrence Jones rejected a defense request for a delay, saying Wesson had not waived his right to a hearing within 10 days of his arraignment.

Public defender Pete Jones had argued that he “could not possibly be effective” without enough time to explain the new charges to his client or to go through evidence related to them.

Wesson, whose dreadlocks hang down to his knees, shuffled across the courtroom to the attorney’s table Wednesday, clanging the chains that bound his hands and ankles. He never looked in the direction of his two sons, Almae and Serafino Wesson.

No known motive yet
Police have not disclosed a motive in the killings but said Wesson may have engaged in incest and polygamy.

Officers were sent to the house Wesson shared with the victims after several of the children’s mothers complained that they were unable to take their children away from Wesson.

Authorities said Wesson appeared to wield absolute authority over his household. The women would walk dutifully behind him wearing dark robes, did not speak in his presence and apparently worked to support him. The children were home schooled because he did not trust public education.

Wesson has been barred from receiving jail visits or phone calls from relatives because authorities were told the relatives would seek his permission to commit suicide.