Judge sets 2017 trial in Ceres death penalty case

Alycia Mesiti
Alycia Mesiti Unknown

A judge has scheduled a trial to start 15 months from now for Mark Edward Mesiti, who is accused of drugging his teenage daughter and sexually abusing her before killing the girl nine years ago.

The defendant is charged with murder in the death of 14-year-old Alycia Mesiti. He also is charged with more than 50 counts of sexual abuse of the teen and two other girls. The abuse of a 17-year-old girl and an 8-year-old girl is alleged to have occurred after Alycia Mesiti went missing in August 2006, according to filed court documents.

Mark Mesiti, 47, has chosen to represent himself in court, which means he will have to make arguments, cross-examine prosecution witnesses and speak directly to a jury. Because the prosecution is seeking the death penalty, Mesiti will likely be assisted in court by an attorney. The court appoints two attorneys for indigent defendants in death penalty cases.

Authorities on March 25, 2009, discovered Alycia Mesiti’s body buried in the backyard of a home on Alexis Avenue in Ceres, where Mesiti’s family lived when the teen disappeared in August 2006. The defendant had since moved to Southern California.

Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves earlier this week scheduled Mesiti’s trial to begin Feb. 6, 2017. Reeves will preside over the case through the trial. Mesiti was scheduled to return to court Dec. 16 for a pretrial hearing.

The murder case has been mired in numerous postponements, including several requests by Mesiti seeking new court-appointed defense attorneys. Prosecutors obtained a criminal grand jury indictment against Mesiti so the case would skip the preliminary hearing phase and move straight to trial. Nearly two years passed before Mesiti was arraigned on the indictment.

The defendant remains in custody at the Stanislaus County jail. He is being held without bail.

Rosalio Ahumada: 209-578-2394, @ModBeeCourts