ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Prosecutors appear to be wrapping up their case against Fabian Gonzales, as an medical investigator and the lead detective on the Martens murder case took the stand Tuesday in the trial of Fabian Gonzales. Now in its tenth day of testimony, the trial is expected to last through the end of the week. Jurors could begin deliberating the case by Thursday or Friday.
Victoria Martens was killed on August 23, 2016. Prosecutors argue that Gonzales, who was dating Victoria’s mom Michelle, put Victoria in a dangerous situation that eventually lead to her death. Gonzales is also accused of helping his cousin, Jessica Kelley, dismember Victoria and clean the crime scene in an attempt to conceal the 10-year-old girl’s death.
Dr. Rebecca Asch-Kendrick conducted the autopsy of the 10-year-old girl, who was killed in August 2016. Tuesday she walked the jury through the injuries found on Victoria’s body. Dr. Asch-Kendrick confirmed that Victoria was killed by manual strangulation and her body was dismembered and lit on fire after her death.
There had been questions about whether Victoria was sexually assaulted. The doctor says it’s difficult to know for sure, but the injuries were not consistent with that type of crime.
Prosecutor: “There were some questions on cross [examination], on anal tearing that we heard. The doctor in the original autopsy reports there was a finding that those tears could have been consistent with a sexual assault. Do know the opinion on those tears today?”
Dr. Asch-Kendrick: “So, they could have been, but there are other explanations for those injuries as well.”
Fabian Gonzales was originally charged with murder and sexual assault after the girl’s murder in 2016. Those charges were dropped two years later after new evidence came to light, including cell phone GPS records indicatnig that Gonzales and Martens weren’t home when Victoria was killed. Today, Gonzales faces one count of reckless child abuse resulting in death, seven counts of tampering with evidence, and one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
While Gonzales did not murder Victoria, prosecutors are trying to prove that he tried to conceal the crime by helping clean up the scene. Dr. Asch-Kendrick confirmed that Victoria’s arms, heart, and part of her liver and sternum were removed from her body. She also confirmed there was an effort to amputated one of Victoria’s legs after she was already dead.
Injuries to the child’s face were consistent with a hand being pushed against her mouth. The doctor also said Victoria had a blunt injury on top of her skull.
In conducting the autopsy, doctors were unable to use blood for a toxicology test because there wasn’t enough blood to collect. Instead, doctors used part of Victoria’s liver to test for drugs and alcohol. The results of the toxicology reports showed Victoria didn’t have drugs or alcohol in her system.
When asked how long it would take to kill and then dismember someone, Dr. Asch-Kendrick says it depends on the skill level. She says the suspect or suspects in this particular case did not appear to be skillfull.
Case detective faces cross-examination from Gonzales’ defense
Retired detective Richard Lewis also took to the stand Tuesday to finish his testimony for the prosecution. Lewis, in part, explained to the jury what made this investigation so difficult. He highlighted two elements, including less-than forthcoming informational interviews and the crime scene cleanup.
“Everyone is hesitant to talk to us, people in this investigation have minimized their involvement, people want to stay out of it whether they’re witnesses, or suspects, or family members,” Lewis said. “But I think the main thing was the tampering with the scene, the scene clean-up, that has completely scuttled the entire investigation.”
Shortly after a lunch break, the detective faced hours of cross-examination from Gonzales’ attorney Stephen Aarons, who attempted to highlight a lack of evidence connecting Gonzales to the crime scene. Gonzales’ DNA wasn’t found on Victoria’s body, and Victoria’s DNA wasn’t found on Fabian’s body.
While prosecutors have tried to paint Fabian Gonzales as a drug user, defense attorneys tried to counter the narrative by highlighting a lack of physical evidence. Although Jessica Kelley tested positive for meth use and testified to smoking meth with Fabian Gonzales, Aarons noted that detectives never found meth on the crime scene or in any of the suspects possession.
Stephen Aarons / Defense Attorney: “In these past five years, you haven’t located anyone that was selling [drugs] to Fabian?”
Lewis: “Just his brother Steven, who supplied him with marijuana.”
Prosecutors believe an unknown man strangled Victoria to death. Meanwhile, the defense argues that Fabian had nothing to do with Victoria’s death or the crime scene clean-up. It’s accusing Jessica Kelley of being the sole person responsible for killing and dismembering Victoria.
Aarons attempted to seize on this point Lewis also elaborated on the interviews he held with with Fabian Gonzales and Jessica Kelley’s family members. He believes Gonzales and others know more about the case than are willing to say.
In cross-examination, Aarons tried to continually place the focus on Jessica Kelley for Victoria’s death. Aarons asked Lewis, “your opinion is [Kelley] know who the man or men were [who killed Victoria.]”
“I don’t have anything to firmly base that on, but yes, I believe people involved in this know who this is [who killed Victoria,]” Lewis said.
He elaborated further about “people involved” knowing more. Specifically speaking of Fabian Gonzales, Lewis said he believes Gonzales knows who is response for Victoria’s murder.
Stephen Aarons / Defense Attorney: “What I’m asking you is, today, as you take the stand, aren’t you perplexed … if Fabian didn’t know this unknown man, why he didn’t just leave [the crime scene]?”
Lewis: “So the hypothetical [you’re asking] to me is, ‘if the defendant didn’t know this man, why didn’t he just leave?’ … at what point in the incident [are you suggesting that Fabian Gonzales leave the crime scene]?”
Aarons: “Well, at the point that he finds out there’s a dead body, that somebody else killed this little kid. Didn’t you think he would just leave, unless he knew this man?”
Lewis: “I’ve never thought about it. I think, as we sit here today, based on my investigation, I think [Gonzales] was involved and I think he does know who it is, and I think that’s why he helped clean up.”
Gonzales’ lead attorney Stephen Aarons said Monday they still haven’t decided if Gonzales will take the stand in his own trial. If convicted of all counts in the case, Gonzales could face several decades in prison. 2nd Judicial District Court Judge Cindy Leos is overseeing the trial.