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Tucson child murders suspect back in court

Christopher Clements hearing could affect key evidence
Posted: 12:13 PM, Nov 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-02 00:20:37-04
2019-08-23 Clements in Maricopa-1.JPG

PHOENIX - The man accused of killing 6-year-old Isabel Celis and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzales is back in court in Maricopa County today.

The hearing for Christopher Clements is related to a Maricopa County burglary case, not directly linked to the child murders but could have a bearing on what evidence prosecutors may use.

Clements is challenging the use of items found in a “legal box” — a collection of legal paperwork inmates are allowed to keep in their jail cells. As a matter of attorney-client privilege, they are supposed to be immune from review by law enforcement unless a judge issues a search warrant.

In Clements case, the documents were kept in a paper bag. Detectives from the Maricopa County Attorney’s office served a search warrant on Clements’ cell in the Maricopa County Jail.

The warrant was on behalf of Tucson Police seeking evidence in the child murders. The Tucson warrant covered items like photos of the Celis house, believed to be in Clements’ possession. Rather than collecting just the items covered in the Tucson warrant, Maricopa detectives seized the entire bag of documents and delivered them to an attorney not connected to the prosecution to review the contents.

Clements attorneys say seizing the whole legal bag instead of just the items covered in the Tucson warrant violated their client's rights. They're asking a judge to bar Maricopa County Prosecutors from using potential evidence items they found in the legal bag.

Tucson attorney Mike Picarreta is not connected to the case but he says the evidence dispute could make it harder for Tucson prosecutors to use evidence from Clements documents in the child murder case. He says that’s because Maricopa detectives and Tucson prosecutors are all acting as representatives of the State of Arizona, so actions of the Maricopa County detectives could affect use of the evidence in all the cases against Clements.