Autopsy: New Mexico Girl Was Strangled on 10th Birthday

January 10, 2017 Updated: January 10, 2017

A New Mexico girl was strangled to death on her 10th birthday before, according to an autopsy released months after police uncovered the abuse they say she suffered at the hands of her mother and others leading up to her killing.

The slaying of Victoria Martens sent shockwaves across the state in August and made national headlines as her mother, Michelle Martens, the mother’s boyfriend and his cousin were charged. They have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges and are in custody pending their trial.

The autopsy results, made public Monday, included evidence of prior sexual abuse and indicated that the girl was assaulted and strangled, AP reported. 

Police found the girl’s body in a bathtub, wrapped in a smoldering blanket. They were initially called to the apartment complex over a disturbance involving the suspects, unaware of what they would find inside the home.

Michelle Martens claimed that her daughter was drugged to relax her, but toxicology tests did not turn up any drugs, only alcohol. The amount of alcohol in Victoria’s system would have been enough to cause cognitive and physical impairment, according to the autopsy report.

“In an alcohol naïve person, this level of alcohol could cause cognitive and physical impairment,” the report said, as reported by the Albuquerque Journal.

Authorities allege Fabian Gonzales sexually abused and killed the girl. Gonzales and his cousin, Jessica Kelley, are accused of dismemberment, according to court documents.

Gonzales has denied having anything to do with Victoria’s death.

Officials said that evidence of the human papilloma virus was found, KOB-TV reported, suggesting Victoria suffered sexual abuse before she was murdered.

Michelle Martens, Gonzales and Kelley are slated to stand trial later in 2017. They’re currently in jail.

Albuquerque police spokeswoman Celina Espinoza told the Journal on Monday that detectives had just obtained the report and were investigating. “They’re trying to match up to their own evidence or track down new leads,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.