Prosecutors argue photo proves Christopher Clements kidnapped, killed Isabel Celis
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Disappeared in the Desert Team has obtained a never-before-seen photograph of the man accused of kidnapping and killing two Tucson girls.
Christopher Clements, 39, is in the Maricopa County Jail facing 22 felony charges, including two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of six-year-old Isabel Celis and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzales.
For Maribel’s death, the trial will start April 19 and could last 12 days. For Isabel’s death, the trial will start May 24 and could last two weeks.
Buried amongst court documents, our Disappeared in the Desert Team found a photo that appeared to be a selfie taken by Clements.
In the documents, Clements admitted it was a picture of him looking in his rear-view mirror at a small child in the backseat of the car.
Who that child is depends on who you ask and will be argued in Clements’ upcoming trials.
Police said they discovered the photo on one of Clements’ devices taken from his Tucson home.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office argued the child bears a striking resemblance to Celis.
Isabel’s mother, Rebecca, told police she braided Isabel’s hair after her bath the night before she disappeared.
Prosecutors said the photo depicts a young female with dark, textured hair consistent with having been braided.
Investigators showed the photo to Isabel’s parents. Court documents state Rebecca told police she thought the girl in the picture looked like Isabel, but she couldn’t be sure because the “quality of the image was so poor.”
The defense, however, said the child in the backseat is not a little girl, but “a happy, smiling 1- to 2-year-old child underneath a blanket.”
Clements and his fiancé, Melissa, have a child together, so investigators took the photo to Melissa and asked if it was her son.
When Melissa saw the photo, investigators said she quote, “started shaking.”
Prosecutors argued she never identified the child as hers.
The defense argued Clements was never questioned by investigators about the photo, and Isabel’s parents couldn’t be sure it was their daughter, yet it was still presented to the grand jury as proof that Clements kidnapped Isabel, therefore misleading grand jurors.
While Clements did lead law enforcement to Isabel’s body, he has maintained his innocence.
You can hear more about the evidence prosecutors plan to use against Clements in this week’s episode of our KOLD News 13′s original podcast “Disappeared in the Desert.”
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