In 2005, Mark Mesiti gained full custody of his daughter, Alycia Allen-Mesiti, and his son.

According to The Mercury News of San Jose, California, Mesiti had a lengthy rap sheet, which included drunk driving and bank fraud. Nonetheless, Judge Vincent J. Chiarello found him to be a more fit parent than the children’s mother, his ex-wife Roberta Allen. She was described by a court investigator as “an unfit mother who battled depression.”

Roberta later said that the custody battle was “very angled toward Mark [Mesiti].” She cited the fact that Mesiti was able to afford an attorney, whereas she could not.

In August of 2006, less than a year after the two children were placed in their father’s custody, Alycia was reported missing. Her disappearance remained a mystery for three years.

Alycia’s body was eventually discovered on her father’s Central Valley, California, property.

As The Mercury News reports, when Alycia’s body was discovered, authorities also discovered Mesiti’s secret meth lab and hundreds of pornographic images. The images revealed the horrific abuse he had inflicted on his own 14-year-old daughter.

During the months Alycia was under her father’s care, Mesiti drugged the young teenager and recorded himself raping her while she laid unconscious. He also assaulted two other female minors. According to People magazine:

“Hundreds of those images showed Mesiti’s daughter being sexually assaulted while she was obviously unconscious,” says the prosecutor’s office. “Videos also showed the defendant setting up a hidden camera in the bedroom of an 8-year-old girl who lived in the apartment with him and his girlfriend at the time. Other videos and images showed a 16-year-old female Mesiti had befriended being sexually abused.”

An autopsy revealed that Alycia died of acute drug intoxication. Her body “showed the presence of opiates, morphine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, diazepam, methadone and anti-depressants,” The Mercury News reports.

It’s been eight years since Alycia’s body has been found, but Mesiti has yet to be sentenced for her murder.

Mesiti first went to trial for running a meth lab and, in 2011, he was convicted of manufacturing meth.

In the death of his daughter, Mesiti was charged with the murder with special circumstances and, after police found the evidence of child pornography, Mesiti was charged with 48 counts of sexual assault.

His trial finally began on October 3, at which point his lawyer attempted to make a plea deal with the prosecutors. Mesiti’s attorney said he would plead guilty if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table. Prosecutors agreed, opting for life in prison without the possibility of parole if Mesiti confessed to his crimes. With the plea deal in place, Mesiti made his confession. Per People:

“Mesiti told the court he [abused] his daughter, Alycia, many times over several different occasions,” the prosecutor’s office says. “He admitted having given Alycia drugs on each occasion to make her unable to resist his attacks. Mesiti also admitted that his administration of those drugs caused Alycia’s death.”

“Finally, Mesiti admitted taking many sexually explicit photographs of his daughter Alycia and two other minors under 18 years old,” the statement said. “He also said he molested the two other minors while he lived in Los Angeles.”

But in a shocking twist, following his confession, Mesiti decided to ask the current judge presiding over his case to rescind his guilty plea.

Alycia’s family is horrified by the news. Her great-aunt, Roberta Fitzpatrick, told The Mercury News:

“Mark is disgusting. He uses the system to torture us.”

She continued:

“There is nothing that will bring her back, but I hope Alycia’s story will be a cautionary tale and will eventually bring changes in the family law courts to better protect children who are trapped in contentious custody disputes.”

According to the Center for Judicial Excellence, since 2008, at least 602 children have been murdered by a parent involved in a divorce, separation, custody, visitation, or child support situation.

In a statement to People, a spokesperson from the prosecutor’s office said that a hearing on the matter will occur later this week and that Mesiti “stands convicted until a judge says otherwise.”

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