Ceres father accused in daughter’s slaying in court to seek new lawyers

05/21/2014 8:44 PM

05/21/2014 8:45 PM

A case remains stalled for a father accused of sexually abusing and murdering his teenage daughter in Ceres. The girl’s body was found buried in her family’s backyard five years ago.

In August, a criminal grand jury indicted Mark Edward Mesiti in the death of his daughter, Alycia Mesiti. His arraignment has been postponed numerous times since then.

Mesiti appeared in court Wednesday afternoon. He told the judge that he wants to move forward with a motion seeking new court-appointed attorneys.

The defendant is represented by defense attorneys Robert Orenstein and Mark Sullivan. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Mesiti, so the law requires a second appointed defense attorney who deals with death penalty issues.

An appellate court decision also is pending regarding Stanislaus Superior Court Judge John Freeland’s ruling to remove Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees from the case based on a conflict of interest. Prosecutors are challenging Freeland’s ruling and seeking to reinstate Rees.

The state’s appellate court has scheduled a hearing June 18 in Fresno, where attorneys will argue over Rees’ removal. The appellate court could issue a ruling in the following weeks.

In the meantime, Freeland will be dealing with Mesiti’s request for new attorneys. The judge cleared the court Wednesday for about 20 minutes to hear from the defendant about why he wants different attorneys. These hearings focus on information protected by attorney-client confidentiality.

When the courtroom was reopened, the judge said Mesiti’s hearing to determine whether he gets new attorneys will continue June 5 and June 8.

The prosecutors want to move the case forward with Mesiti’s arraignment on the indictment, but that can’t occur until after the judge determines whether the defendant gets new attorneys. The defense attorneys must then have an opportunity to challenge the indictment before Mesiti can be arraigned.

Alycia Mesiti was reported missing in August 2006. Her body was discovered March 25, 2009, in the backyard of an Alexis Court home in Ceres where Mesiti used to live. Mesiti and the rest of his family by then had moved to Los Angeles, where he was convicted in 2011 of manufacturing methamphetamine.

Mesiti is charged with murder and more than 40 counts of sexually abusing Alycia, as well as sex-abuse charges involving two other girls, according to the indictment against him. The defendant remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.

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