Just days before the first trial is set to begin in the Victoria Marten’s murder case, the District Attorney’s office is in the hot seat. Immediately following a tough day in court for the prosecution, they dropped the rape charges against Jessica Kelley.
Friday’s hearing focused solely on a sentence-long quote coming directly from District Attorney Raul Torrez. The defense considers the quote so inappropriate and biased that he asked the judge to dismiss all of the charges against Kelley.
KRQE News 13 published the quote in question in early December after the DA’s office announced the investigation into a fourth man suspected of killing and raping Victoria had stalled. It reads: “In the absence of Jessica Kelley’s continued cooperation following the district court’s rejection of her plea agreement, the investigation into the unidentified male has stalled.”
The defense is accusing the DA’s office of deliberately trying to destroy Kelley’s right to a fair trial.
“It sounds to me like the state is sitting here today saying, ‘We can’t solve this crime and that’s Jessica Kelley’s fault,'” said defense attorney Mark Ernest.
Friday, the DA’s office defended that statement.
“Without that continued cooperation, which was really…which ended really by no fault of Ms. Kelley, it did end. It’s just a factual representation of what happened,” said prosecutor Greer Rose.
“It was prejudicial and it was actually yet another example of a pattern of behavior by the DA’s office in this case,” said Ernest.
In court Friday, the director of communications for the DA’s office, Michael Patrick, did take the stand. Patrick said the quote came directly from Torrez, and denied the defense’s questions asking if anyone in the DA’s office has a bias against Jessica Kelley.
After an hour-long hearing, Judge Charles Brown agreed with the defense, calling the quote reckless and woefully inaccurate. However, Judge Brown did not dismiss the charges against Kelley.
Judge Brown said he is considering issuing a gag order to the prosecution, that would prevent them from talking to the press until the end of the trial. He denied the defense’s request to issue a curative instruction to the not-yet-set jury, or add any additional peremptory challenges for the defense.
The DA’s office issued this statement following the hearing:
“The public has a right to know the developments of the case against Jessica Kelley. It is our obligation to the community to ensure truthful and updated information is made available in this polarizing case which has received international attention.”
Almost immediately after the hearing, the DA’s office announced it is filing to dismiss three charges against Kelley regarding the rape of Victoria.
The charges could be re-filed at a later date, but court documents state there is a “lack of sufficient evidence to establish guilt in light of the forensic analysis of expert pathologists.”
Kelley is scheduled to go on trial next week.
- DA: Investigation into fourth suspect in Victoria Martens case has stalled
- Suspect in Victoria Martens case asks for release pending trial
- Judge: Trial for Victoria Martens murder suspect to remain in Albuquerque
- Judge denies Jessica Kelley’s plea deal for second time