Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
An Albuquerque judge has ordered prosecutors to provide Fabian Gonzales and his defense team with a more detailed explanation for the basis of the child abuse and conspiracy charges he is facing in the death of Victoria Martens.
Gonzales, 33, was initially accused of murder and rape, but prosecutors said in June that he was not at the home when the child was killed. The state has since dismissed many of his charges, but one count of child abuse resulting in death, multiple counts of tampering with evidence and two conspiracy charges remain.
His trial is set for October, and the court plans to send questionnaires to a pool of between 600 and 700 potential jurors.
His cousin, Jessica Kelley, is still facing murder and rape charges in the case, and her trial is set for next year. Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, pleaded guilty in June to child abuse resulting in death; she could be required to testify against Gonzales and Kelley.
Gonzales’ attorney, Tom Clark, said the state will now lay out its theory so the defense will know the allegations it must defend against. At question is whether Gonzales, who had been dating Victoria’s mother for a short time, was obligated to protect the girl.
“He’s not the child’s mother or father; he’s not the child’s guardian; he had no legal relationship to the child,” Clark said. “The argument is a legal one: that he had no legal obligation to protect her under the law.”
According to a spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, the statement, due Sept. 14, will not be filed under seal.
State District Judge Charles Brown deferred ruling on other motions discussed during a hearing Thursday morning, including one filed by the defense seeking to suppress lapel video from the August 2016 day when officers were dispatched to Victoria’s apartment and found her dismembered body burning in a bathtub.
“This video is something that can never be unseen by anybody,” Clark argued, adding that it would serve only to inflame and prejudice jurors.
Prosecutor Greer Rose argued that it is not the state’s job to sanitize the case and that the video is extremely relevant to Gonzales’ charges.
The defense also asked to suppress a series of Kelley’s statements, including one in which she tells a fellow inmate that Gonzales helped clean up after the homicide. Brown deferred ruling on that motion, too.