APD admits to mistakes in Victoria Martens murder case
July 11, 2018 10:13 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Nearly two years after 10-year-old Victoria Martens was killed, the Albuquerque Police Department is admitting it could have done a better job investigating the case.
Police hinged rape and murder charges for Michelle Martens, Fabian Gonzales and Jessica Kelley on APD's interview with Michelle Martens. Martens told homicide detectives that the three played active roles in sexually assaulting, killing and dismembering the 10-year-old girl. The Bernalillo County District Attorney now calls her statements false confessions.
KOB 4 Investigative reporter Chris Ramirez asked APD Lieutenant Jason Sanchez how something like this could happen.
“I can tell you that when Michelle started giving false admissions, it started to lead the investigation kind of off course,” Sanchez told Ramirez. “Detectives didn't know at that particular point, not until a year later when the DNA started coming back that this isn't in line, corroborating her statements.”
KOB 4 got ahold of the transcript of Martens’ statements.
One legal expert says APD didn't work to get quality statements.
“A good seasoned law enforcement officer wants to always balance the idea of a person talking, answering questions, but at the same time rendering truthful statements,” said defense attorney Ahmad Assed.
There is now doubt about whether that balance was reached.
On numerous occasions, detectives asked Martens questions but didn't accept her answers. Instead, the detectives continued asking the same question until Martens said something outrageous.
In one instance APD detective Acata asked Martens how Victoria died.
Martens responded, “The meth.”
Acata then told Martens, “The meth is not what killed her.”
A few minutes later, they revisit the subject.
Detective Acata asked, “While they were having sex with her, how did they kill her? And I don’t want ‘the meth’ again. How did they kill her, Michelle? How did they kill Victoria?”
Martens answered, “Stabbing her.”
Lieutenant Sanchez responded to whether the detectives were waiting for Michelle Martens to say the most egregious thing and use that has their narrative.
“I think we have to understand that the narrative and going back to my experiences as a police officer, it's so unusual for a person who is being accused of committing a crime to now falsely admit to doing that,” Lieutenant Sanchez said.
APD detectives interviewed Martens knowing she was hit in the head with an iron hours earlier and may have been under the influence of drugs.
Also, the detectives that interviewed Martens were from APD’s Homicide Unit. Now, APD admits that detectives from the Crimes Against Children Unit may have been better prepared.
Lieutenant Sanchez wouldn’t go as far as saying the interview process was flawed. Instead, he said the department can learn from it.
“I think this is a point where APD can recognize there were some areas we can approve upon and the department is taking adequate measures in doing such.” Lieutenant Sanchez said. “That means improving the training that detectives are going to, terms of interviews and interrogations and what not”
In addition to the announcement of new training, KOB has learned three of the detectives who interviewed Michelle Martens are no longer in the homicide unit. In fact, one of them resigned from the department.
Created: July 11, 2018 10:13 PM
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