Mark Edward Mesiti, who is accused of killing his daughter and burying her body in a Ceres home’s back yard, has decided not to legally represent himself in his capital murder trial.
The trial was scheduled to start last week in Stanislaus Superior Court. Mesiti, 49, chose to act as his own attorney in October 2015. The defendant was expected to question witnesses, present his arguments in court and participate in jury selection.
Mesiti changed his mind last week, asking the court for an attorney to represent him in the trial. Modesto defense attorney Martin Baker has been Mesiti’s advisory counsel in the murder case. The court has now appointed Baker as Mesiti’s defense attorney in the trial.
Jury selection for the trial is now expected to start at some point next month. Mesiti is scheduled to return to court Aug. 14.
The defendant is accused of sexually abusing and killing his 14-year-old daughter, Alycia Mesiti. On March 25, 2009, her body was found buried in the back yard of the Ceres home where her father lived at the time of her August 2006 disappearance.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Mesiti is charged with murder and more than 40 counts of sexually abusing his daughter, as well as sexually abusing two other girls.
By the time Alycia’s body was found, her father and the rest of his family had moved to Los Angeles. There, he was arrested and later convicted in 2011 of manufacturing methamphetamine. Prosecutors here waited two years before Mesiti’s case in Los Angeles concluded, and he was returned to Stanislaus County to face charges in his daughter’s death.
Mesiti’s murder trial has been postponed before.
In April, the trial was postponed because a prosecution investigator discovered photos collected as evidence that had not been provided to the defense until March.
In January, the trial was postponed because the defendant, who was then acting as his own attorney, wasn’t given sufficient access to a writing surface to properly prepare his defense while in jail.