New trial denied for man convicted of killing a Tucson girl
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A judge has denied a new trial for a man convicted in the first of two murder cases in Tucson.
Pima County Superior Court Judge James Marner ruled Monday that the prosecutors’ case was still strong enough to leave the conviction in place. He also denied a defense motion for judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict.
Christopher Clements was convicted Sept. 30 of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Monday and is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Lawyers for Clements also sought a change of venue for their client’s other murder trial, scheduled to be heard by a new jury starting Feb. 2 involving the death of 6-year-old Isabel Celis.
Clements, a 40-year-old convicted sex offender with a long criminal record, was arrested in 2018 and indicted on 22 felony counts including two counts each of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the girls’ deaths. Celis vanished from her parents’ Tucson home in April 2012 while Gonzalez disappeared while walking to a friend’s house in June 2014. Authorities said Gonzalez’s body was found days after her disappearance while Celis’ remains weren’t recovered until 2017 after Clements led federal agents to the location. Clements currently is serving a prison term of up to 35 years for a Maricopa County burglary in 2017.
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