DAY 12: Pima County Attorney will retry Christopher Clements for murder
Clements is already serving life in prison for kidnapping and killing Maribel Gonzalez in 2014
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The second murder trial of convicted child killer Christopher Clements’ ended with a mistrial on Friday, March 3.
The jury gave a note to the judge stating they were at a deadlock on the first-degree murder charge and could not reach a decision. The judge then declared a mistrial.
Clements was charged with murder, kidnapping and burglary in the 2012 disappearance and death of Isabel Celis. He is already serving life in prison for kidnapping and killing Maribel Gonzalez in 2014.
Jurors deliberated more than nine hours over two days before announcing their decision.
Pima County Attorney Laura Conover said the state will retry Clements with a different jury. There is no indication of how long that could take.
“At this point, a new trial date will be ordered, and a new jury will have to be chosen to decide the matter,” Conover said. “Our thoughts tonight are with the Celis and Gonzalez families.”
Clements has a status conference for the murder case at 4 p.m. Monday, March 27. At the same time, he will have a case management conference for a prison contraband charge he picked up earlier this week. He was allegedly caught sneaking a sharpened pencil into the jail.
The judge ruled that Clements will remain in the Pima County Jail until further notice.
13 News reached out to Eric Kessler, Clements’ primary attorney. He said he is not ready to comment on the decision just yet.
Despite the jury’s decision, the state presented several pieces of evidence that suggest Clements was responsible for Isabel’s death.
- Clements’ phone was near Celis’ home the night she went missing and where her body was dumped hours later.
- Clements’ ex-girlfriend testified she destroyed a piece of paper with Isabel’s name on it that she found under a rock at Clements’ home.
- Experts testified Clements’ internet search history included several mentions of Isabel, like “Isabel Celis sexy,” “Isabel Celis-body found in the desert,” “child killer found not guilty,” and “Arizona cold cases.”
- Authorities said they found several photos of young girls on Clements’ devices. Some of those photos were taken around the Tucson area. Links to child porn sites were also found on the devices.
- A fellow inmate said Clements showed him photos he had hidden in his Bible, photos that were allegedly of the Celis home.
Clements was on trial for the 2012 disappearance and death of Isabel Celis in Tucson.
Isabel went missing from her bedroom more than a decade ago and the case quickly gained national attention as the southern Arizona community searched for her.
Despite several leads, the case went cold until 2017. That is when Clements’ fiance called the FBI and told them Clements knew where Isabel was buried.
A month later, Clements led agents to Isabel’s body in a desert area near West Avra Valley and North Trico roads in rural Pima County.
Clements, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, claimed he had nothing to do with Isabel’s death. He said he only knew the location, not who did it.
A year after Isabel’s remains were recovered, Clements was indicted for the deaths of both Isabel and Maribel. Maribel’s body was found in the same general area as Isabel’s.
Last year, Clements was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Maribel Gonzalez and sentenced to life in prison. Maribel was 13 years old when she went missing while walking to a friend’s home on June 3, 2014. Days later, her body was found in a desert area near Trico and Avra Valley roads.
Clements is already serving 35 years for a Maricopa County burglary case.
- DAY 1: Clements’ second murder trial kicks into high gear with opening statements
- DAY 2: Isabel Celis’ father, brother take stand
- DAY 3: Isabel Celis’ mother takes stand
- DAY 4: Clements’ former girlfriend takes the stand
- DAY 5: More expert witnesses discuss Clements’ electronic devices, search history
- DAY 6: Mothers have no idea why Clements had photos of their young daughters
- DAY 7: Defense calls first witness in murder trial
- DAY 8: Clements didn’t become prime suspect until he led FBI to Isabel’s remains
- DAY 9: State rests case in Clements’ second murder trial
- DAY 10: Defense rests, closing arguments held and jury handed case
- Day 11: Clements jury deliberates all day
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.
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