A judge on Tuesday denied a request to replace a court-appointed attorney defending a man accused of murdering his teenage daughter and burying her body in the back yard of their Ceres home.
Mark Edward Mesiti, 44, appeared for the conclusion of his hearing on the matter in Stanislaus County Superior Court. He is charged with first-
degree murder in the death of his 14-year-old daughter, Alycia Mesiti.
In a closed courtroom, Judge John Freeland heard Mesiti's reasons for the request of a new court-appointed attorney. These hearings are closed to all but the judge, defendant, defense attorney, bailiff and court reporter.
The judge announced the decision later in the morning in an open courtroom, declining the defendant's motion. He scheduled Mesiti to return to court Sept. 17 for another pretrial hearing.
Robert Orenstein will remain Mesiti's defense attorney as the case moves forward; a preliminary hearing has not been scheduled. The defendant remains in custody without bail at the Stanislaus County Jail.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Mesiti. A special enhancement has been added to his charges, alleging that he committed murder before or during rape, sodomy, oral copulation or rape by an instrument, according to a criminal complaint. The enhancement makes the case eligible for the death penalty.
Charged in sex abuse of daughter
Mesiti also faces 44 counts of sexually abusing his daughter, including rape, committing lewd acts upon a child, sexual penetration with a foreign object, sodomy, oral copulation, and using a minor to pose or model sexual conduct.
The criminal complaint claims that most of these sexual acts were committed while the victim was drugged, sometimes with anesthesia, so she could not resist. Authorities said they believe the sexual abuse occurred from July 2005 through May 2006. The criminal complaint further claims that Mesiti killed his daughter on or about Aug. 16, 2006.
Mesiti's live-in girlfriend, Shelly Walker-Welborn, told police that month that Alycia had run away from their rented home in the 3500 block of Alexis Court. But Alycia's mother, Roberta Allen, called Ceres police to say that she did not believe her daughter had run away and that Alycia should be classified as a missing person.
Alycia's body was unearthed March 25, 2009, from the back yard of the Alexis Court home.
In the meantime, Mesiti and Walker-Welborn had moved to Los Angeles.
Days after the gruesome discovery, Los Angeles police arrested Mesiti, who was convicted March 18, 2011, of manufacturing meth. He was returned to Stanislaus County in June 2011.
Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees has filed additional sex abuse charges against Mesiti involving two other girls. One girl was 8 years old when she was sexually assaulted, authorities said, and the other was 16 and 17 years old when she was assaulted. The victims are identified as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 in court documents, and authorities are not disclosing their relationship to Mesiti.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.