EXCLUSIVE: Inside the notebooks of juror in the Christopher Clements mistrial
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — It was a shocking end to a high-profile murder case in Tucson. Earlier this month, a mistrial was declared for Christopher Clements in the murder of 6-year-old Isabel Celis, who went missing in 2012. It was on the heels of Clements being convicted for murdering another girl, 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez. In a True Crime Arizona exclusive, Briana Whitney dives into the notebooks of one of the jurors, who told us what really went on in the deliberation room and why the jury couldn’t come to a decision.
This juror mailed Arizona’s Family their four full notebooks and the instructions they were given on the case and talked about it to Briana Whitney on the phone. We are keeping their identity anonymous to protect them, but now we know out of the 12 jurors, 11 of them believed Christopher Clements was guilty of murdering Isabel. Only one juror would not budge. Thousands of words were preserved in notebooks from Juror No. 4 as they carefully listened to the prosecution and defense in Clements’ murder trial.
The first thing written in their notebook, circled and starred, said “My big question: how did Clements know where the body was?” It was in 2012 when Isabel disappeared from her home. She wasn’t found for years, until Clements led authorities to her remains in the desert, hoping for a deal in an unrelated crime case.
It was the same area 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez’ body had been found after she went missing in 2014, and Clements was arrested for both girls’ murders. In the juror’s notes, they circled a question Clements’ fiancée was asked, “During the time you have known Christopher Clements, did he mention that he had anything to do with the disappearance of Isabel?”
The juror then circled and starred the fiancée’s response of “I don’t remember.” The juror noted they all asked the judge why the search for Isabel’s remains was only two days and wrote the answer they got, which was “confident unlikely to find more.” The defense tried to convince the jury Isabel’s father was to blame and continually pointed to no DNA or fingerprints ever being found that connected him to Isabel’s house or death. The juror wrote down, starred and circled that DNA or an eyewitness was not required, and they didn’t have to prove a motive for a conviction. Their jury instructions said all 12 jurors had to unanimously agree on first-degree murder for a conviction.
The juror starred the entire page of “Direct and Circumstantial Evidence” and underlined it was up to them, the jurors, to determine how important evidence was regardless of if it was direct from a witness or circumstantial. The juror told Briana Whitney on the phone there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence that included Clements’ phone in the area where Isabel’s remains were found the night she disappeared, a note with her name on it under a rock at his home, countless pornographic images of young girls, and a search history of “Isabel sexy.” But the juror said they left in tears because 11 of them believed Clements was guilty, but because of no DNA evidence, one juror believed he was not guilty and would not budge. That ended in a mistrial.
The juror told Arizona’s Family what made them more emotional was they had no idea Clements had been convicted for Maribel Gonzalez’ death months prior and sentenced to life in prison. Jurors selected for this case were chosen because they had no knowledge of Clements’ history and no bias, so the juror truly believed he could get off the hook if they didn’t convict him.
The juror said after the mistrial was declared, the judge told the upset jurors Clements will still be behind bars for the rest of his life. In Arizona, legally, direct and circumstantial evidence bear the same weight when you’re looking at a case. That’s what a jury should consider every single time, but ultimately, they will think what they want after they hear all of the evidence. The Pima County Attorney’s Office will have to order a new trial date and a new jury, starting this process all over.
Copyright 2023 KTVK/KPHO. All rights reserved.