Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Potential COVID exposure delays child death process

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Prosecutors in the child death trial of Fabian Gonzales may have recently been exposed to COVID-19, which caused a judge on Thursday to postpone the trial until mid-2022.

Gonzales, 37, was due to begin the process on Monday over the death and dismemberment of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in 2016.

The delay means Gonzales is unlikely to be tried about six years ago after Victoria’s murder in August 2016.

At a brief emergency hearing on Thursday, state district judge Cindy Leos said prosecutors on the case failed to properly answer one of the court’s COVID-19 screening questions.

New Mexico Supreme Court rules prohibit assistant district attorneys James Grayson and Greer Rose from entering the courthouse, Leos said.

The question the attorneys got incorrectly was, “In the past 10 days, have you been in contact with someone you know has COVID-19, who has traveled to New Mexico from another country OR who himself?” quarantine? ”

If you answered “yes” to the question, you are not allowed to enter a court in New Mexico.

Gonzales’ attorney Stephen Aarons said Thursday he was “extremely” disappointed with the delay in the trial, which is now more than five years old.

“I mean, it’s been five and a half years, which is a record in my 40 years of practice,” said Aarons.

The 2nd District Court had tapped about 160 potential jurors who were due to arrive next week to select a jury at Bernalillo District Court.

The process is unlikely to begin before June or later, Aarons said.

Gonzales is charged with reckless child molestation, resulting in death. According to an amended indictment, he is also charged with eight evidence manipulation and conspiracy for allegedly dismembering the girl’s arms, wrapping her organs, washing knives and hiding clothes to hide the murder.

Gonzales is the last of three defendants charged in connection with the murder of Victoria, whose body on fire was found by Albuquerque police in an apartment complex on the West Side.

Two other defendants, Jessica Kelley, Gonzales’ cousin, and Michelle Martens, Victoria’s mother, have accepted plea deals and are due to be convicted in February.

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