Closing arguments to begin for man accused of murdering 13-year-old girl in Tucson

Christopher Clements is accused of kidnapping and murdering six-year-old Isabel Celis in 2012 and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez in 2014.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 8:55 PM MST
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TUSCON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The first trial for a Tucson man accused of murdering two young girls is coming to a close, his fate soon to be in the jury’s hands. It’s a case that made national headlines - Christopher Clements is accused of kidnapping and murdering six-year-old Isabel Celis in 2012 and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez in 2014.

The first trial is for the death of Gonzalez. Over the past two weeks, new details have emerged from the prosecution and defense. However, it’s been a very lopsided case regarding the witnesses who were called.

One of the most surprising aspects of this trial is that it only began two weeks ago. Often high-profile murder cases can go on for months, but what stands out is the number of witnesses the prosecution and defense called. The state bolstered its case that Clements killed Gonzalez by calling 24 witnesses. The defense only called three.

While no cameras were allowed inside, a dramatic two weeks unfolded in Tucson during the trial. The 40-year-old is now days away from learning whether he’ll possibly spend life in prison for the murder of Gonzalez.

The state hammered home DNA and digital evidence. A DNA expert testified that DNA samples taken from Gonzalez’s body could not rule out Clements as a suspect because the test showed Clements as a match in all 18 areas where DNA could be extracted. She said the chances of someone else being a match with this profile is about 1 in 7.4 undecillion or 7.4 followed by 36 zeroes, a near impossible chance.

The prosecution’s case also relied on Clements’ cell phone locations the night Gonzalez went missing. Clement’s phone pinged in the early morning hours near the rural area where Gonzalez’s body was found before his phone was turned off for more than four hours.

Clements’ ex-girlfriend took the stand and told the jury that Clements came back early that morning and asked her to wash all his clothing, and clean anywhere he walked in the house and asked her for bleach. She said Clements followed media coverage of Gonzalez’s death closely, seemed interested in the case, and confirmed what investigators found on his iPad - more than 1,200 pornographic photos of children.

The defense called their own experts, who said the DNA testing was only used to exclude suspects even though it matched Clements. They argued that every person who processed the crime scene should have been tested to rule out possible contamination.

The defense’s digital expert testified that even though his phone was in the area where Gonzalez’s body was found, the mapping method does not show exactly where Clements’s phone was located. Clements’ attorneys’ biggest argument was that no cause of death was ever determined due to decomposition, so it’s difficult to prove it was a homicide.

Closing arguments in the trial will begin Wednesday, Sept. 28. However, no matter the outcome of this trial for the death of Gonzalez, Clements will stand trial next year for the murder of six-year-old Celis.