Man accused of killing Arizona girls facing 1st of 2 trials

September 12, 2022 GMT

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A man accused of abducting and killing two young Tucson girls separately and dumping their bodies in the desert is facing the first of two scheduled trials.

Opening statements are set for Tuesday in Pima County Superior Court.

Christopher Clements, 40, was arrested in 2018 and indicted on 22 felony counts including two counts each of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the deaths of 6-year-old Isabel Celis and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzales.

Celis vanished from her parents’ Tucson home in 2012 while Gonzales disappeared while walking to a friend’s house two years later, according to authorities.

They said Gonzales’ body was found days after she disappeared while Celis’ remains were not recovered until 2017 after Clements led federal agents to the location.

Clements, who authorities say has a long criminal history, currently is serving a prison sentence of up to 35 years for a Maricopa County burglary in 2017.

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In hopes of getting that burglary arrest dropped, Clements allegedly told FBI agents he had information on Celis’ whereabouts and later led them to her remains.

However, Clements told authorities he wasn’t responsible for her death and only knew where her body was through talking with other inmates.

Clements was sentenced in the burglary case last year as his scheduled murder trials were postponed at least four times for various reasons.

Prosecutors said Clements will be tried first in the Gonzales case. He will face a different jury for the Celis case with that trial scheduled to start on Feb. 2.