ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time in trial, jurors heard from Fabian Gonzales and his account of what happened the night of Victoria Martens was murdered. Calling on the lead homicide detective in the case, prosecutors played clips of Albuquerque Police’s August 2016 interrogation videos Thursday, in day seven of Gonzales’ trial.
Gonzales is charged with reckless child abuse resulting in death and several evidence tampering charges in the 2016 death of 10-year old Martens. In the police interrogation videos, Gonzales in-part admitted he and his girlfriend, Michelle Martens, left 10-year-old Victoria at home with Gonzales’ cousin, Jessica Kelley on the night Martens was killed.
Prosecutors allege the 10-year-old girl was strangled to death by an unknown man. Victoria’s mother’s boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, and his cousin, Jessica Kelley, are then said to have attempted to conceal Victoria’s death by dismembering her body. The defense argues Jessica Kelley is the sole person responsible for killing and dismembering Victoria.
Brown described the case as “the worst” he’s ever investigated. Describing the scene, Brown said he smelled a strong scent of cleaners in the apartment.
Gonzales was interviewed twice on August 24, 2016. In his first interview, police spoke to Gonzales around 8 a.m. At that point, Gonzales was not considered a suspect in the case. Police initially responded to the apartment complex for a call of a battery, where Gonzales claimed he and his girlfriend Michelle were attacked while they were sleeping.
During the initial interview with Gonzales, he described Kelley as someone who would only be allowed to stay at the apartment one more night. He also described being warned by family members that Jessica Kelley was “bad news” and someone who “shouldn’t be in the apartment” he was staying in. To that statement, Gonzales recounted saying to his brother, “I know.”
As the interview continued, APD detective Joshua Brown said he noticed several “red flags.” One of those red flags came when Gonzales described running out of the apartment when Kelley attacked Gonzales and Martens.
“Knowing what we knew, it was interesting throughout the interview, he said that during the fight, he and Michelle were concerned about Victoria, but yet they never went in there,” Brown testified. “After he made that statement, he never really asked again, like, ‘How’s this little girl? How’s Victoria?'”
Brown testified that towards the end of his initial interview with Gonzales, the defendant asked if he could speak with Michelle, or if investigators had spoke to Michelle. “He seemed more concerned about what if we’ve talked to Michelle than whether Victoria was okay, or not,” Brown said.
Later on August 24, Gonzales was interviewed at APD headquarters in downtown Albuquerque. The interrogation came after Brown said Gonzales’ statement didn’t match what neighbors saying.
“Based on the canvas [of the neighboring apartment residents,] we’re hearing that this altercation is occurring between 3:45 and 4:00 A.M.” Brown described another detective telling him, “And I told her what Fabian said, and we’re like, ‘okay, yeah, his statements not lining up with what everybody else is saying.”
Brown said Gonzales never invoked his right to an attorney or stopped police from questioning him during his initial interview or the subsequent interrogation. During the second interview, Gonzales described during the fight that he saw Kelley stabbing Victoria’s body while Michelle screamed “no” and “stop.” His account doesn’t match what any of the previous witnesses testified.
While Victoria had stab wounds to her chest, the Office of the Medical Examiner’s autopsy concluded that Victoria was strangled to death. When asked about Gonzales’ demeanor in the interrogation, Brown said in part that Gonzales was quite fidgety.
“Could be an indication of being nervous, or deception, but when it’s throughout the entire interview, it’s something to look at,” Brown said. “I saw it as potentially another red flag … he’s responding to [detectives] but during most of the interview … he’s responding, but he’s scratching his legs, scratching his arms, grabbing his chest and this is pretty consistent throughout most of the interview.”
For the first time, the jury also heard details of Michelle Martens’ initial story of what happened to her daughter. Martens initially confessed that Victoria was given meth, rape, then killed. Prosecutors later determined that confession was false.
In the state of cross-examination Thursday, the defense highlighted Martens’ false confession as the moment the investigation got off track. Gonzales’ defense attorney Stephen Aarons questioned Brown over how he extracted the false confession from Martens, by telling Martens that “Gonzales already told investigators how Victoria died.”
Cross examination is expected to continue Friday. Prosecutors also highlighted that Gonzales and Martens were never tested for drugs after Victoria’s murder.
Second DNA expert explains Gonzales & Martens blood evidence
In the morning, prosecutors questioned the second DNA analyst to testify in the case: Cristina Servidio. A technical leader for Florida-based DNA Labs International, Servidio’s company describes itself as “specializing in forensic DNA analysis for law enforcement agencies, attorneys, and government forensic labs.”
Servidio detailed all of the items the out-of-state laboratory re-tested in the case., including knives, towels, Victoria’s clothing and several DNA swabs taken from Victoria’s body. Roughly 25 to 30 items were tested by DNA Labs International, in total.
Several of the DNA tests performed on items including multiple swabs of Victoria’s body, underwear, a garbage bag, a bed comforter, and knives all detected male DNA. However, the majority of the tests returned data that was inconclusive for comparison to any other known DNA profiles. In other words, there was not enough DNA data collected from the samples that could be used to identify which person the DNA came from.
In reference to a knife that was tested, Servidio said, “Fabian Gonzales, Michelle Martens, and Jessica Kelley were all excluded from that DNA profile from the handle area. Victoria Martens could not be excluded however from the mixed DNA profile.”
Servidio described her company’s analysts finding strong support for the probability of Fabian Gonzales’ and Victoria Martens’ DNA contributing to a DNA mixture found in blood on a towel. There was also strong support for the probability of Jessica Kelley and Victoria’s Martens DNA contributing to a DNA mixture found on a book that Jessica Kelley claims she owned.
Gonzales’ defense attorney Stephen Aarons highlighted how another test on a different part of the the same towel showed that while there was strong support for the blood belonging to Victoria, there was stronger forensic evidence showing the Fabian was not a contributor to the DNA mixture. Aarons also questioned Servidio on the idea that there’s no “timestamp” on DNA, meaning its unclear when DNA got on an item, or how long it could stay on an item.
In Wednesday’s testimony, prosecutors introduced the DNA evidence indicating that an unknown male’s DNA was found on Victoria’s back. That evidence is meant to help corroborate Jessica Kelley’s testimony that Martens was killed by a unidentified man who entered the apartment on the night of August 23.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys for Gonzales tried to highlight the lack of evidence that conclusively shows both Victoria and and Fabian’s DNA on the same items. Only one single sock contained both DNA evidence of Victoria’s body tissue and Fabian’s DNA in the heel of the sock. The sock was found by police in a hamper containing a bag of human remains.
2nd Judicial District Court Judge Cindy Leos is overseeing the trial. Defense attorneys Stephen Aarons and Hugh Dangler are representing Gonzales in the case. The prosecution is being lead by Greer Staley and James Grayson, both of whom are deputy district attorneys with the Bernalillo County DA’s Office.