A woman pleaded no contest in the slaying of 10-year-old New Mexico girl Victoria Martens, according to reports.
Jessica Kelley entered the plea on child abuse recklessly caused resulting in death, tampering with evidence, and aggravated assault charges.
Jessica Kelley admitted to setting Victoria Martens on fire the night the young girl was killed. Kelley has now agreed…
She faces a total of 50 years in prison because she has two prior felony convictions and will be sentenced as a habitual offender, the Las Cruces Sun News reported on Jan. 9.
Kelley will now testify against Fabian Gonzales, another suspect in the case as part of a plea deal she reached with prosecutors, KOAT reported.
According to a motion filed by the prosecutor, when the case was originally indicted by the Grand Jury in September…
Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, pleaded guilty to child abuse that recklessly resulted in death over the summer and faces between 12 and 15 years behind bars.
Martens’ boyfriend, Gonzales, meanwhile, is charged with child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence.
His trial was delayed after a ruling was handed down by the New Mexico Court of Appeals, according to the Sun News report.
Court records show that Kelley told investigators that she was high on methamphetamine when she was babysitting Victoria when a man she didn’t know came into the apartment and killed the child, KOAT reported.
Kelley told her cousin, Gonzalez, that the girl died, telling investigators that she and Gonzalez attempted to hide the crime scene in a gruesome fashion.
On the same night, Kelley reportedly hit Michelle Martens in the head. After Michelle and Gonzalez left the apartment, Kelley tried to set the girl on fire and ran from police, according to the station’s report.
“Because of today’s plea, we now have Jessica Kelley’s cooperation and I believe that case is significantly strengthened,” District Attorney Raul Torrez said of her no contest plea.
“One of the things that has sort of haunted me from the beginning is this notion that we would be forced into a place where we wouldn’t be able to hold everyone accountable, either because of the evidence or because of the facts, and unfortunately that’s the nature of what it means to do this job,” Torrez said.
The purported killer of the girl has not yet been identified.
Torrez told KRQE that Victoria Martens’ family was upset with the plea, but he understands that it could help them convict Gonzales.
Gonzales’ attorney said his client won’t take a plea deal
“We are disappointed that the prosecution settled for a child abuse conviction against Jessica Kelley for her brutal murder and dismemberment of Victoria Martens,” lawyer Steve Aarons wrote in an email to the Sun News. “On the other hand, by pleading and agreeing to testify as the prosecution’s star witness, Kelley will be subject to cross examination at our trial.”