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Child murder case: Prosecutors fight push to drop charges

Dispute claims of weak evidence in Celis and Gonzalez murders
Posted: 11:18 AM, Apr 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-12 03:16:41Z
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TUCSON, Ariz. — Prosecutors are pushing back against defense efforts to throw out murder and kidnapping indictments against the man charged with killing 6-year-old Isabel Celis and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez.

Defense attorneys for Christopher Clements filed a court motion urging the judge in the case to throw out murder and kidnapping counts of the indictment against him.

They argue prosecutors exaggerated the strength of the evidence against Clements and did not give adequate weight to what defense attorneys called suspicious behavior by Isabel Celis's father Sergio.

RELATED: Two girls, two murders, one suspect: The deaths of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzalez

In a motion responding to the defense effort, prosecutors Jonathan Mosher, Chris Ward and Tracy Miller posted a 39-page motion backed up by reports and transcripts that push the total filing to 634 pages.

They argue that the presentation to the Grand Jury is not intended to be a mini-trial of the entire case; instead it’s to help grand jurors decide if there’s enough evidence to go to trial.

Prosecutors say the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in other cases prosecutors have no obligation to present information that would tend to raise doubts about the case against a suspect.

RELATED: Prosecutors to seek death penalty in Clements case

The motion lays out detailed allegations, including claims of cell phone traces which prosecutors say put Clements near the homes of Celis and Gonzalez, and near where their bodies were found -- all near the time when the girls were last seen.

Clements led investigators to Isabel Celis's remains without ever explaining how he knew where they were. Those remains were in a remote area of Northwest Pima County near where the remains of Maribel Gonzalez were found.

RELATED: Clements mentioned 2 more bodies to girlfriend, court docs say

Prosecutors say DNA traces recovered from Mariel Gonzalez were a partial match for Christopher Clements. Clements attorneys claim prosecutors overstated the strength of the match but prosecutors says they always clarified the DNA was a partial match, but a strong partial, with 17 matching points out of a possible 21.

The claims and counter claims will probably be discussed in a court appearance for Clements and attorneys for both sides. It is set for Monday morning.