Judge rejects suspect's plea deal in murder of Victoria Martens | KOB 4

Judge rejects suspect's plea deal in murder of Victoria Martens

David Lynch, Patrick Hayes and Nathan O'Neal
September 14, 2018 05:58 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Closure was beginning to come in the gruesome murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens, found dead in late August two years ago, until a judge stalled the momentum.


Jessica Kelley, 33, and three others have upcoming trials. On Friday afternoon, she planned to plead guilty to several charges, including child abuse resulting in death, and was facing 49-and-a-half years in prison.

As part of her plea deal, Kelley had also agreed to testify against the other defendants, including Fabian Gonzales and Michelle Martens, Victoria's mother.

But District Court Judge Charles Brown rejected the plea deal, saying he didn't believe prosecutors effectively made their case, even after asking Kelley about the night of Marten's murder. According to Kelley, she let an unknown man looking for Gonzales into the house, and that individual ended up killing Martens. 

Brown said that wasn't enough for the charge of child abuse resulting in death because Kelley didn't know what was going to eventually happen. 

"You have not presented me with enough evidence anyone would feel that there was some foreseeable risk that this person presented, looking for Fabian wasn't there," he said in court. "There's no indication she knew or should have known the person intended to commit intentional murder."

Outside the courts, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez said his team gave a lot of time and consideration to the plea deal they presented. The outcome, Torrez said, complicates the upcoming trial for Gonzales and his alleged connection to the crime. 

"Making the decision to enter into this kind of plea agreement wasn't taken lightly. It was something that I struggled with," he said. "But we felt it was necessary to obtain Jessica Kelley's cooperation, if not only to strengthen the case against Mr. Gonzales, but more importantly to identify the male who we are still looking for in this case."

The district attorney is now weighing all options moving forward, including possibly filing a motion to reconsider. The focus remains on Gonzales's upcoming trial, which begins in October, as well as identifying and locating the fourth unknown suspect.

New documents filed after the hearing on Friday in Gonzales's case show that Martens's murder appeared to stem from a gang battle. 

Prosecutors say Gonzales was involved in a fight with two other women several days prior to the child's death. They had asked him to leave, claiming he had stolen from them, but he refused and the brawl ensued. 

Gonzales apparently threatened retaliation after receiving a black eye. 

According to the court documents Gonzales is a gang member, his brothers founding members. On August 23, 2016, Kelley said, a man arrived at the apartment and entered, looking for someone named "Favo," Gonzales's street name. Court documents state that man killed Victoria, and told Kelley that "Favo" needed to "clean up the mess" or she and her kids would be next. 

Kelley is scheduled for trial in January. 


David Lynch, Patrick Hayes and Nathan O'Neal

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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