DAY 8: Defense to call first witness in Christopher Clements murder trial
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The trial of accused Tucson child killer 40-year-old Christopher Clements continued Friday, Sept. 23 with the defense calling its first witness.
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.
The trial started two weeks ago with jury selections but kicked into high gear last week with opening statements and witness testimony. Links to our previous stories are below.
WEEK TWO: FRIDAY TESTIMONY
The trial continues Friday with the defense calling its first witness.
Dr. Rebecca M. Hsu was the only person to testify on Friday. The trial will resume Tuesday and the defense will call at least two more witnesses -- DNA analyst Mike Spence and cell phone/mapping expert Karl Epps. After that, closing arguments will begin and the jury will begin deliberations.
All three defense experts are expected to counter the damming testimony from the state’s experts.
The state’s experts have said DNA testing and cell phone mapping put Clements at the spot where Maribel’s body was found.
Also, there were several questionable internet searches found on his electronic devices along with photos of very young girls. At least some of those photos were allegedly taken by Clements at spots in the Tucson area.
Hsu, a forensic pathologist from Goodyear, brought up heatstroke or drug/alcohol reaction as a possible cause of Maribel’s death. She said since it was summer, both could have played role in Maribel’s death.
She also said if Maribel’s body was well hidden she would be more apt to believe it was a homicide. Like if the body had been buried and that “was not the case here.”
Maribel’s body was indeed hidden though.
Lois Oleson, a bus driver for Marana Unified, discovered Maribel’s body in a mound of tires in a desert area near Trico and West Avra Valley roads in Pima County
Oleson testified that she saw drag marks near Trico Road going off into the distance. She said she followed the tracks to a mesquite tree and that about a dozen vultures flew away when she approached.
She said she saw red hair sticking out below a tire. Oleson said she decided to flip the tire over and that is when she discovered the naked body of the missing teen.
- 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
- DNA expert said Clements cannot be excluded as a suspect
- Search of Christopher Clements’ computers revealed hundreds of child erotica images, photos taken of young girls around Tucson
- State rests case in Clements murder trial
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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