Marcus Wesson is unlikely to ever face execution

FRESNO, Calif.

Wesson was convicted of killing nine of his children and evidence in the case showed the perverse lifestyle he forced his family to lead. But his attorney says he's the perfect example of how the state is wasting money by pursuing the death penalty.

The crime was grotesque. Nine bodies stacked in a back bedroom of a home in March 2004. More than a year later, jurors convicted Marcus Wesson of murdering all nine -- his own children and grandchildren in a twisted family tree. He's been at San Quentin prison ever since.

Now, more than six years since the verdict, his appeals attorney made his first court appearance on the case. Mark Cutler has represented many death row inmates and not one of them has been put to death, even after decades living in prison. He says Wesson's case will also take decades -- long enough for the 64-year-old to avoid a true death penalty.

"I can't see any possibility in the world that Marcus will be executed," Cutler said. "He will die a natural death long before the case is over."

Cutler's job is to make sure nothing went wrong in Wesson's case. It slows down the death penalty process, but he says it's the only way to make sure no innocent people are executed.

"Most people's reaction is always that there's got to be some way to make this faster, but there really isn't," Cutler said.

Only 13 people have been executed in the 33 years since California's death penalty was reinstated, none since 2006. Legal analysts say prosecuting capital punishment cases costs 20 times as much as it does to send a killer to prison for life without parole. But when it comes to the Wesson case, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer isn't swayed by the financial argument.

"Marcus Wesson is the very reason we should have the death penalty," he said. "Life in prison for him would be an injustice to his nine children he killed."

ABC-30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi agrees.

"What happened in that case was so bad, I agree, if it was ever a proper time for the death penalty, it would be in that particular case," he said.

Attorneys in the Wesson case are still just making sure the 25,000 page transcript is correct. It'll be years before the state Supreme Court even hears the case and there are further appeals after that.

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