Neighbors of Victoria Martens testify in Fabian Gonzales trial

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tuesday was the fifth day of testimony in the Fabian Gonzales trial. Many of the neighbors who lived next to Victoria Martens described their experiences the day the 10-year-old was brutally killed in 2016.

Gonzales is facing child abuse and tampering with evidence charges in Victoria’s death.

Most of the neighbors recall when Gonzales and his at-the-time girlfriend, Michelle Martens, returned to her apartment with cigarettes for Jessica Kelley, another key player in Victoria’s death.

There’s a gap in time, however, until the early morning hours the next day – when neighbors heard a fight, saw Michelle with a bloody face and then saw police arrive to make the gruesome discovery of Victoria’s remains.

The most emotional testimony came from neighbors – other mothers – who described their interactions with Victoria. They said she was outgoing, talkative, friendly, and willing to help others.

“She would walk the dogs for me, she’d ask if she could help,” said Sharlene Benavidez, one of the neighbors. “Plenty of times she would see me struggling going upstairs, offer to help me. From groceries, to just walking next to me going upstairs. So, she was my little friend.”

So when Michelle emerged from her apartment after 3 a.m. with blood on her face, the neighbors were gravely concerned. Witnesses said she looked like she was in shock.

“I was asking Michelle, I said, ‘where are your children?'” Benavidez said. “I kept begging her, ‘where are your kids?’ I kept asking her like five times and she wouldn’t say anything. She didn’t have any reaction, she kind of looked like she looked right through me. I almost went downstairs to go to Michelle’s apartment, but my daughter stopped me because I was so worried about the kids.”

Michelle Martens is listed as a potential witness in the case – but she’s listed as a witness for Gonzales’ defense. It’s possible she will take the stand, but it will not be until after the state rests their case.