Sad New Details About The Murder Of Victoria Martens — Including The Woman Accused Of Disposing Of Her Body

She was strangled to death and set on fire in 2016.

Victoria Martens Raped Murdered Suspects Trial Jessica Kelley Facebook

An Albuquerque woman accused of brutally murdering 10-year-old Victoria Martens has entered into a plea deal and will avoid going to trial.

Jessica Kelley, one of three people charged with Victoria's August 2016 murder, pleaded no contest to six charges in a nearly empty courtroom Monday, according to court documents obtained by KOB. Those charges included child abuse resulting in death, great bodily harm, aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, but none of them were rape or murder, which she was previously charged with.


Kelley faces up to 50 years in prison, but her time behind bars could be reduced to just 20 years due to good behavior, according to her defense attorney, Mark Earnest.

“We were able to fashion an agreement that substantially exposes Ms. Kelley to the same amount of time in the Department of Corrections and satisfies the concerns of the court,” District Attorney Raúl Torrez said. “It also brings some finality at least to the second of the three suspects that are charged with the death of Victoria Martens.”


As part of the plea deal, Kelley agreed to testify against her cousin, Fabian Gonzales, who was also charged with Victoria's murder, as well as cooperate with authorities in the investigation of a fourth unknown suspect.

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The case has endured plenty of twists and turns over the years and Kelley is the second person to enter a plea agreement in relation to Victoria's slaying. Last year, the girl's mother, Michelle Martens, pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in death and faces 12 to 15 years in prison. Marten's boyfriend, Gonzales, was charged with the same, as well as tampering with evidence.

Victoria's dead body was found on fire in her mother's bathtub in 2016. Within 24 hours, authorities arrested Martens, Gonzales, and Gonzales' cousin, Kelley, who were all charged with the girl's murder, child abuse, along with other charges related to her death. Gonzales and Kelley were charged with raping Victoria.


Jessica Kelley, Metropolitan Detention Center

According to the plea agreement, Kelley had agreed to babysit Victoria on the day of her death despite being high on meth. While she was watching the girl at Marten's place, an unknown man entered the residence and strangle Victoria to death.

"The man strangled Victoria to the point of death or to the point of causing great bodily harm," the statement reads. "Evidence would support a reasonable inference that Kelley knew or should have known that the man posed a substantial and unjustifiable risk of serious harm to Victoria."


According to Kelley, Victoria was killed in an act of gang violence against Gonzales

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When Marten and Gonzales returned, Kelley went to Gonzales for help. The cousins "agreed to conceal the crime and dispose of Victoria's body and to hide the murder from Martens by keeping her away from Victoria's room."

Gonzales attacked Martens with a clothes iron and a struggle between the three ensued. When Martens left the apartment, Kelley and Gonzales took down the smoke detectors in the apartment, set Victoria's body in the bathtub and lit it on fire.


“Because of today's plea, we now have Jessica Kelley’s cooperation and I believe that case is significantly strengthened,” Torrez said.

It was originally believed by authorities that Kelley and Gonzales killed Victoria while Martens watched, a story that Martens told the police but later retracted when she entered a plea deal.

Fabian Gonzales and Michelle Martens, Metropolitan Detention Center


Last week the rape charge against Kelley were dropped because there was "not sufficient evidence to connect Jessica Kelley to the charge of criminal sexual penetration," despite the initial autopsy concluding the 10-year-old was sexually assaulted, the DA's office said.

Gonzales' defense attorney, Stephen Aarons, believes prosecutors gave a murderer a plea deal. Gonzales claims Kelley was behind Victoria's killing.

"When you put her on the stand and you can show the statements that she made to her sister and police and to cellmates when she didn't know she was being tape recorded and the statements she ultimately made to police in trying to get off of the murder charge," Aarons said. "We can prove those things are false."


At a news conference, Torrez acknowledged that the plea deal was not an "ideal" outcome and that the decision did not come easily.

"It is not something that is ideal in terms of what we all would like to see happen in these cases," he said. "However we are confronted as prosecutors with our ability to present cases based on the facts and the evidence that we have. We, as you know, identified some issues with the initial investigation which altered the course of our prosecution and had to inform our decision to enter into this plea agreement."

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Sarah Gangraw writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.