A tearful Ruby Ortiz testified Tuesday in a Fresno courtroom that she was Marcus Wesson's child-bride who gave birth to a daughter, Aviv, who was murdered in the city's worst mass murder in March last year.
Ortiz told jurors in Fresno County Superior Court that she no longer wanted her uncle Wesson to raise Aviv, 7, because he had broken a promise to quit having babies with his daughters and nieces.
On March 12, 2004, she and relatives and friends confronted Wesson at his Fresno home and demanded the safe return of Aviv. Wesson, however, held off Ortiz and her group and later slipped into the house.
Ortiz testified that she soon heard gunshots, possibly five in a row.
She later learned from police that Aviv, as well as eight other children that Wesson had fathered, had been shot to death inside Wesson's home near Roeding Park. Wesson, 58, is charged with nine counts of murder and 14 counts of sexually assaulting his nieces and daughters. He has pleaded not guilty.
For the second day in a row, Ortiz, 27, has given jurors in Judge R.L. Putnam's courtroom a first-hand account of the events leading up to the murders on March 12 and her life growing up with Wesson.
Much of Ortiz's testimony is similar to that of her sister, Sofina Solorio, 29, who spent five days on the witness stand. Solorio also married Wesson and gave birth to his son, Jonathan, who was among the murdered victims.
One key difference in the women's testimony, so far, is that Solorio said she heard two gunshots soon after Wesson slipped into his home. Ortiz heard five.
Ortiz testified that Wesson was a strict disciplinarian who beat his children who crossed him. She said Wesson controlled the girls with his interpretation of the Bible and by turning them against each other.
Wesson also didn't want the girls to associate with their brothers or male relatives to prevent them from having sexual feelings for each other, Ortiz testified.
She told jurors she was 8 years old when Wesson started molesting her. He called it loving, "a father's way to show affection to his daughter," she said.
By the time she was 13, Wesson proposed marriage, saying "God wants man to have more than one wife."
Though Wesson was married to Elizabeth Wesson, Ortiz said she accepted his marriage proposal because she loved him. She said Elizabeth Wesson knew of the marriage plans and didn't object.
Alone in a bedroom, Ortiz said she put her hand on a Bible. Wesson then put his hand over hers. Wesson recited the vows, and Ortiz testified that she said, "I do" when asked if she promised to be his wife.
Wesson then told his children that he had married Ortiz, who became Wesson's third wife. He married Elizabeth first and then later married his daughter, Kiani.
Kiani Wesson, however, had a different arrangement with Wesson. Because Kiani was Wesson's daughter, she could leave him without repercussions. If Ortiz was to leave Wesson for another man, Ortiz said, she would be branded an adulteress.
Wesson wanted to have multiple brides and children, Ortiz said, because Wesson repeatedly told his daughters and nieces that "God's people are becoming extinct. We need to preserve God's children. We need to have more children for the Lord."