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Judge denies new trial for convicted killer

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-26 19:18:07-05
A Tucson man convicted in a double homicide case claims he is innocent but a Pima County judge recently denied the man's petition for a new trial. 
 
Eduardo Celaya was convicted in the 2005 double homicide of two men at Kennedy Park. Celaya was sentenced to consecutive life terms in prison with the possibility of parole after 50 years. 
 
On October 21, 2005 a passerby noticed two men slumped over in a red car at Kennedy Park. Police later determined that Humberto Enciso and Miguel Noriega Tanori were both shot dead.
 
The case remained open for nearly a year with few leads and no official suspects. Then a man came forward and accused Celaya of killing the two men. Police said evidence they collected supported that man's claim.
 
A jury convicted Celaya on two counts of first degree murder in July, 2007. 
 
"I'm trying to get a new trial now," said Celaya via phone from prison. "I mean, I've already been nine years in here for something I didn't commit."
 
Celaya was convicted based on testimony from the state's star witness along with evidence of a bullet found in Celaya's work truck that police said was fired from the same gun that killed the victims. Though police never found the murder weapon.
 
At his last evidentiary hearing in December, Celaya's attorney said that a 2009 National Academy of Science report challenges the science of matching bullets and that information could have been used in Celaya's original trial. 
 
"Forensic scientists came into the courtroom and said this can be done and not long after Eddie Celayas trial, it was discovered through the NAS report that this was based on faulty science, was based on assumptions that were never validated or proved," said David Euchner, assistant Pima County Public Defender who has represented Celaya for three years.
 
The judge ultimately ruled that even if a jury heard this evidence in 2007, it would not have changed their verdict, meaning it is not considered newly discovered evidence under the law. 
 
Also in the last hearing, the judge considered the testimony of two men who said they heard the state's star witness confess to the murders years after Celaya was convicted. But the judge said their testimony wasn't credible and it also wouldn't have changed the jury's verdict.
 
Euchner says he plans to pursue appeals in the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona Supreme Court
 
Stay with 9OYS as we follow Celaya's case and present an in-depth look at the circumstances surrounding his case in the coming weeks.