Patrick Hayes and Hawker Vanguard
Updated: August 23, 2020 10:12 PM
Created: August 23, 2020 10:10 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —A virtual vigil was held to commemorate the anniversary of Victoria Marten’s death Sunday. Martens, who was only 10 years old when she died, was brutally murdered four years ago on her birthday.
“Victoria’s case was the most brutal horrific case, in my opinion, that Albuquerque has ever seen,” said Joell Leah, a vigil organizer.
Every year, Leah takes a moment to stop and reflect on what kind of girl Victoria would have grown up to be with a vigil. This year’s vigil was held on Facebook.
“Every year I do a candlelight tribute. We decorate her memorial tree and have a balloon release. We just want to keep her memory alive,” she said.
Three people were arrested and charged with Marten’s murder—Victoria’s mother Michelle Martens, her boyfriend Fabian Gonzales and his cousin Jessica Kelley. Those murder charges were eventually downgraded.
It was eventually determined years later that Gonzales and Martens were not there when Victoria died, but the DA’s office said Kelley and a fourth suspect were.
Kelley pleaded no contest to child abuse resulting in death, aggravated assault and tampering with evidence. Martens pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death. Both of them will get sentenced after Gonzales goes to trial.
Gonzales has blamed his cousin from the very beginning. Gonzales’ attorney said a fourth suspect was not present and he is pushing to get the case thrown out because he said the state violated his client’s right to a speedy trial.
The judge in the Marten’s case, Judge Charles Brown, still needs to weigh in on two motions—Gonzales’ motion to dismiss and the state’s motion to have the judge recuse himself. No hearing dates have been set.
No one has been convicted of murder in the case of Victoria Martens.
As for Joell Leah, she said the fight for justice and tougher penalties for predators will persists not only for Victoria, but other kids who are at risk of falling through the cracks.
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