Death penalty a possibility for man accused of killing Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzales

Death penalty a possibility for man accused of killing Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzales
Christopher Clements, right, has been accused of kidnapping and killing Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzales. (Cooper, Michael)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The death penalty is a possibility for the man accused of killing Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzales.

Christopher Clements has been accused of kidnapping and killing the two Tucson girls years ago.

On Monday, Tucson News Now found out the state has requested more time in considering if it wants to pursue the death penalty in the case.

The state has until Jan. 24 to make its decision.

The fact the state is requesting more time means it is considering capital punish for Clements, who pleaded not guilty on Sept. 24 to 22 felony charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child porn.

Clements will be represented by Eric W. Kessler, a Scottsdale attorney who handles first-degree murder cases. Clements was assigned new counsel on Thursday, Oct. 11.

[ Documents reveal chilling details into Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzales investigation ]

He is being held on $2 million cash bond in the Pima County Jail.

Celis was 6 years old when she vanished from her parents' east-side home in April 2012. Gonzales was 13 when she disappeared while walking to a friend’s house in 2014.

Gonzales' body was found days after her disappearance. Celis’ remains were not located until early 2017.

Both girls were kidnapped, killed and dumped in a remote area near Trico and West Avra Valley roads in Pima County.

Both investigations were cold for years, until someone contacted the FBI in February 2017. The source alleged Clements had information about Celis.

In March 2017, Clements led federal agents to Celis' body. At the time, Clements was in the Pima County Jail on burglary charges.

He agreed to reveal the location of Celis' remains if the burglary charges were dismissed and his vehicle was returned to him.

Authorities agreed and the charges were dropped, but Clements was not released.

Instead he was transported to Maricopa County to face burglary and fraud charges there.

While in Maricopa County, authorities were able to put together a case against him.

He was indicted Sept. 15 and extradited back to Pima County Sept. 23.

TIMELINE OF CASE

  • 1993: Christopher Clements accused of molesting a very young child. He was never charged.
  • 1998: Clements convicted of first-degree sexual abuse in Oregon.
  • 2002: Clements convicted of identity theft and assault in Washington.
  • 2006: Clements convicted of failure to register as a sex offender in Oregon and Florida.
  • 2007: Clements convicted of false reporting in Pima County.
  • 2008: Clements convicted of failure to register in Tucson.
  • APRIL 2012: Isabel Celis' family reports her disappearance from their home.
  • JUNE 2014: Maribel Gonzales disappears while walking to visit a friend. Her body is found days later near North Trico and West Avra Valley roads in rural Pima County.
  • FEBRUARY 2017: Someone contacts FBI alleging Clements has information about Celis.
  • MARCH 2017: Clements leads federal agents to human remains near North Trico and West Avra Valley roads in rural Pima County. DNA testing reveals the remains belong to Celis.
  • SEPT. 15, 2018: Authorities announce 22-count indictment against Clements in deaths of Celis and Gonzales.
  • SEPT. 18, 2018: Clements gets into fight with two inmates at the Maricopa County Jail.
  • SEPT. 23, 2018: Clements extradited to Pima County to face charges.
  • SEPT. 24, 2018: Clements enters plea of not guilty.
  • OCT. 11, 2018: Eric W. Kessler assigned as Clements' counsel.
  • OCT. 15, 2018: State requests more time to consider seeking death penalty for Clements.

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