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Tucson Child Murders: Change of venue denied

Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzalez murders
2019-04-15 Clements-2.jpg
Posted at 9:18 AM, May 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-01 20:13:21-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The trials of a man charged with kidnapping and killing two Tucson girls will not be moved to another city.

That was the ruling late Friday in the cases of Christopher Clements. Clements is charged in the disappearance and death of six-year-old Isabel Celis and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez.

Attorneys for Clements argued that publicity around the cases has been so intense that prospective jurors in Pima County would not give Clements a fair trial. But Judge Deborah Bernini ruled that most of the publicity involved the disappearance of Isabel Celis and that publicity happened six years before Clements was arrested and his name became tied to the case.

Clements' attorneys raised concerns on postings to social media prejudicing jurors but Judge Bernini noted that social media is so pervasive changing locations would make no difference. Judge Bernini says attorneys can depend on their questions to prospective jurors to prevent seating jury members who have already made up their minds about Clements' guilt or innocence.

Earlier this week, Judge Bernini ruled prosecutors will be allowed to use cell phone evidence that investigators say placed Clements near the Celis house near the time when Isabel Celis disappeared. Prosecutors say other cellphone tracking placed Clements near where the remains of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzalez were found.

Defense attorneys tried to exclude the cellphone evidence because it was requested for an unrelated case against Clements and was based on a court order instead of a formal search warrant.