DAY 5: DNA expert weighs in, says Christopher Clements “cannot be excluded as contributor” from evidence found
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The murder trial of accused Tucson child killer 40-year-old Christopher Clements continued Tuesday, Sept. 20, with more witnesses and experts taking the stand.
So far, the state has called 15 witnesses to the stand.
Clements is facing several charges for allegedly kidnapping and killing 6-year-old Isabel Celis in 2012 and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez in 2014.
The current trial is for Maribel’s death, while Clements will face a jury for Isabel’s death next year.
WEEK TWO: TUESDAY TESTIMONY
Forensic DNA Analyst Alicia Cadenas, who has worked in this field since 2007, took the stand for the state on Tuesday.
Cadenas said she has worked on hundreds of cases over the years and testified in more than 60 cases. She previously worked at DNA Labs International in Florida, where samples taken from Maribel’s body were sent.
A pubic hair found on Maribel was tested and returned a partial profile. Cadenas said the hair was not tested to determine whether it was Maribel’s.
Cadenas said Clements “cannot be excluded” as the source.
The partial profile was tested against 26,000 samples in a data base, with zero coming back as a match. DNA Labs International also ruled out all suspects but one: Christopher Clements.
In all 18 areas where DNA data could be extracted, Clements was a match. Cadenas said the chance of this testing matching a random person is 1 in 7,400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
The defense asked Cadenas why there were discrepancies in one of the swabs; at first, the sample showed the presence of male DNA, then it showed no male DNA when retested.
Cadenas responded DNA is sometimes lost over time due to freezing and thawing, and explained the lab cannot test samples until receiving permission from law enforcement.
Cadenas says the lab applied a 95% confidence to the match.
The state then called Rolando Roman, who lived on Country Club Road for nearly a decade, beginning in 2011.
Roman testified he’s never met Clements. Yet somehow photos of his young children had ended up in a secret file on Clements’ computer.
The person would have been on the west side of his home taking photos, Roman said, while his children were playing in the backyard. They were 6, 7 and 8 years old at the time.
Roman said he found out about the photos when detectives investigating Clements contacted him.
Roman’s testimony establishes the story the prosecution has given the jury. Tracy Miller claims Clements had hundreds of photos of young girls in compromising clothing and positions on his computer. She also said Clements had taken pictures of unsuspecting children in Tucson.
Det. Miguel Flores, the lead investigator in the case, testified in court for the second time.
He said in 2017, Clements took officers to the area Maribel’s body was found during an “unrelated investigation.” We know the investigation was for the death of 6-year-old Isabel Celis, however, that information is precluded from this trial. Det. Flores said Clements referenced the tire pit, which was about 50 feet west of where Maribel’s body was found in 2014, as a “landmark that stood out in his memory.” Clements also pointed out the tree line where Maribel had been recovered, according to Det. Flores. That’s when Clements became a focus of the investigation.
Det. Flores said Clements lived along the route Maribel was walking the night she went missing.
Previous witness testimony concludes Clements left his home around the same time Maribel did.
At 9:55 p.m. on June 3, 2014, Maribel’s mother sent a message to Thomas Keyes saying, “Maribel is walking over there.” Maribel left her apartment, at 6639 East Broadway Boulevard, likely heading north towards Keyes’ apartment on East Grant Road.
At 9:39 p.m., Clements’ cell phone showed him leaving his house, at 5826 East Elida Street, heading south, likely on Wilmot Road or Craycroft Road. At 9:55 p.m., his cell puts him in an area just north of Davis Monthan.
- 6-year-old Isabel Celis goes missing from family’s Tucson home
- Psychic weighs in on disappearance of Celis
- Police: CPS had previous contact with Celis family
- Father of juvenile prank callers apologizes to Celis family
- Neighbor heard male voices near Celis home the morning of her disappearance
- Maribel GonzaleZ’ father talks after body found in desert
- Friends react to Maribel Gonzalez’s suspicious death
- Police: Maribel Gonzalez was murdered
- Deeply saddened but not broken, murder victims’ families speak out
- Christopher Clements indicted in deaths of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzalez
- Documents reveal chilling details into Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzalez investigation
- Murder suspect Christopher Clements had multiple run-ins with Tucson police
- Clements pleads not guilty in deaths of Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzalez
- New documents reveal details in the murder of two Tucson girls
- Documents detail hours, days and weeks after the disappearance of Isabel Celis
- Best friend of Maribel Gonzalez remembers her on graduation day
- State will not seek death penalty for man accused of killing Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzalez
- ONLY ON KOLD: Video of interrogation of accused child killer Christopher Clements
- ONLY ON KOLD: FBI interrogation videos shows deal accused child killer tried to make with special agents
- Prosecutors argue photo proves Christopher Clements kidnapped, killed Isabel Celis
- Clements convicted of burglary in Maricopa County
- Clements, accused Tucson child killer, gets prison time in Maricopa County burglary case
- High profile murder case starts in Tucson
- Jury seated for Clements’ first murder trial
- Opening statements delivered in Clements’ murder trial
- Victim’s mother takes stand in Clements’ trial
- Former girlfriend of accused child killer continues testimony
- Clements’ phone shows “unusual activity” night Maribel Gonzalez disappeared
DISAPPEARED IN THE DESERT
KOLD has been covering the case for years. In 2021, we released an award-winning podcast called Disappeared in the Desert.
CLEMENTS’ CRIMINAL HISTORY
- In 1993, Clements was accused of molesting a very young child but was never charged.
- In 1998, he was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse in Oregon.
- In 2002, he was convicted of identity theft and assault in Washington.
- In 2006, he was convicted of failure to register as a sex offender in Florida.
- In 2007, he was convicted of failure to register as a sex offender in Oregon.
- In late 2007, he was charged with false reporting in Tucson after allegedly giving a police officer a fake name.
- In 2011, he registered as a sex offender and was living at a home in the 1900 block of South Craycroft Road.
- In 2012, he registered as a sex offender and was living at a home in the 5800 block of East Elida Street.
- In 2013, he was charged with living too close to a school as a sex offender.
- In 2015, he was arrested on charges of pimping and child abuse but the charges were later dismissed.
- In June 2016, he was arrested in connection with a burglary in Tucson.
- In January 2017, he was arrested in connection with a burglary in Maricopa County.
- In February 2017, he contacts the FBI alleging he has information on Isabel Celis’ body.
- In March 2017, he leads federal agents to human remains near North Trico and West Avra Valley roads. DNA testing revealed the remains are from Isabel Celis.
- In September 2018, he was indicted on 22 counts in connection with the deaths of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzalez He would later plead not guilty to all charges.
- In April 2022, he was convicted in the Maricopa County burglary case.
- In June 2022, he was sentenced to more than 30 years for the Maricopa County burglary case.
- In September 2022, he went on trial for the death of Maribel.
- In February 2023, he is set to go on trial for the death of Isabel.
ISABEL CELIS TIMELINE
- April 20, 2012: Isabel Mercedes Celis went to bed in her bedroom.
- April 21, 2012: Around 8 a.m., family members call 911 after they discover she is not in the house.
- April 22, 2012: FBI search dogs arrive from Virginia to aid in the search.
- April 23, 2012: Celis family and 88-CRIME post a $6,000 reward.
- March 2017: Human remains were discovered near North Trico and West Avra Valley roads in rural Pima County.
- March 31, 2017: DNA analysis confirms remains are those of Isabel Celis.
- Sept. 15, 2018: Authorities announce the indictment of Christopher Matthew Clements in Isabel’s death.
MARIBEL GONZALEZ TIMELINE
- June 3, 2014: Maribel Gonzalez leaves home to walk and visit a friend.
- June 4, 2014: Gonzalez was reported missing by her family after she failed to come home.
- June 6, 2014: Human remains were discovered near North Trico and West Avra Valley roads in rural Pima County.
- June 20, 2014: DNA analysis confirms remains are those of Maribel Gonzalez.
- Sept. 15, 2018: Authorities announce the indictment of Christopher Matthew Clements in Maribel’s death.
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