Home Correction journal The police deceived the suspect with false stories

The police deceived the suspect with false stories

Jeffrey Smith, a medical examiner with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, points to the spot inside a laundry basket where he found a fingerprint. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

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No less than six detectives questioned Fabian Gonzales in the hours following the death of 10-year-old Victoria Martens and her dismembered and burned body in a bathtub on August 23, 2016.

Josh Brown, then the Albuquerque Police Department’s lead detective on the case, testified throughout Friday morning. It was his second day at the helm. Questioned by Gonzales’ attorney, Stephen Aarons, Brown confirmed portions of the interrogation transcripts read by the attorney. In these, Brown and the other detectives made up stories indicating that Gonzales’ cousin, Jessica Kelley, and Michelle Martens, Victoria’s mother, implicated him in the child’s murder and the attempt to dismember him. and get rid of his body.

Brown, now an APD internal affairs sergeant, said concocting stories is a standard interrogation technique used by investigators to try to get those involved in a crime to ‘turn on each other’ and reveal the truth.

Gonzales and Martens were arrested shortly after Victoria’s death and initially charged with rape and murder. Those charges were dropped in 2018 after authorities discovered Gonzales and Martens were not at the apartment at the time of Victoria’s death. At the time, prosecutors acknowledged that many of the initial allegations were based on false confessions by Martens.

Although Gonzales did not personally strangle Victoria, prosecutors now allege he created the danger that led to her death and tampered with evidence of her murder.

Gonzales’ attorney counters that Kelley, the prosecution’s “star witness,” was the real killer and that prosecutors gave him a generous plea deal.

Gonzales, 37, is on trial for child abuse, caused by recklessness, resulting in the death of a child under 12, and seven counts of tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Excerpts from the interrogation transcripts were read Friday in Judge Cindy Leos’ 2nd Judicial District courtroom. These transcripts indicated that detectives used extremely graphic language and imagery to tell Gonzales that Kelley or Michelle Martens, or both, had turned on Gonzales. Detectives said the women confessed that they and Gonzales smoked methamphetamine with Victoria, that the child was raped, and that Michelle Martens saw her child being raped.

Despite these tactics, Aarons noted, Gonzales repeatedly told detectives that he had no role in Victoria’s death.

An autopsy report revealed the child had no drugs in his system and no evidence of semen.

A detective in another interrogation transcript told Gonzales that since this was a high-profile case involving the death and possible rape of a child, it would be difficult to hide from other prisoners in the prison. metropolitan detention center.

“How do you think it’s going to make your visit there when you go to DOC (Department of Corrections) after court and get convicted?” the detective asked Gonzales.

Aarons also asked Brown about the effectiveness of storytelling, noting that some suspects might be influenced to provide a statement that matches the story they were told, people like Michelle Martens, who Aarons said has suffered trauma after being informed of the fate. of his daughter.

Fabian Gonzales turns to his lawyers on Friday, the second week of his trial for his involvement in the death of 10-year-old Victoria Martens. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Chief Assistant District Attorney James Grayson released part of a video in which Gonzales is shown repeatedly demonstrating how Kelley allegedly held a knife and plunged it into Victoria Martens’ torso. This video, Grayson noted, was made after Gonzales told investigators he hadn’t seen anything relating to the child’s death.

Most of the afternoon was taken up with testimony from Jeffrey Smith, a forensic scientist with the Department of Public Safety, who has the expertise in bringing out latent fingerprints on surfaces and interpreting specific characteristics. of these fingerprints.

Smith said he examined 86 items taken from the apartment. Among them were a set of kitchen knives and a block of wood, which yielded no usable fingerprints. Gonzales’ fingerprints were on a mop handle and on some DVDs, Smith said.

A fingerprint inside an orange laundry basket, Smith said, was from Kelley.

Lawyers previously noted that a white plastic bag containing Victoria Martens’ severed limbs was found in an orange laundry basket in the flat.

Testimony will resume on Monday.

Michelle Martens, 40, pleaded guilty in 2018 to reckless child abuse resulting in the death of a child under 12. She has not yet been sentenced.

Kelley, 37, did not contest six counts, including child abuse, caused by recklessness, resulting in the death of a child under the age of 12. She was sentenced to 44 years in prison, but may be released in half that time.

She and Martens are to testify in Gonzales’ trial as part of their plea deals.