A suspect in a brutal child murder case in New Mexico was handed a stiff sentence for a drug conviction a year before she is expected to go on trial for the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.
KRQE reports that Jessica Kelley, one of three people charged with raping and murdering Victoria Martens in August 2016, was sentenced to seven years in prison for a drug dealing charge from 2015. Kelley had pleaded guilty to the charge but her attorney argued that the sentence was unduly harsh and may have been influenced by the unrelated murder charges against Kelley.
“This is piling on,” the attorney, who was not identified in the KRQE report, said in court.
“To be expected, there’s cameras in the courtroom everybody knows about the other case and frankly it’s unfair.”
Jessica Kelley sentenced to seven years for a 2015 drug charge. Her attorney argued she's being treated unfairly because she's a suspect in the murder for Victoria Martens. More at noon. pic.twitter.com/N9kQWhgP6m
— Fernanda Lopez (@Flopeznews) January 11, 2018
According to the report, the attorney is also concerned about the expected order of murder trials: All three suspects will be tried separately, and suspect Fabian Gonzalez and Victoria’s mother Michelle Martens will both be tried before Kelley. Her attorney reportedly believes that the trials will lead to information that prosecutors could use against his client.
The news of Kelley’s sentencing comes a day after KOAT reported that Michelle Martens’s attorneys appear to be seeking out ways to discredit a confession she reportedly made to police.
“They’re listing an expert on false confessions. They haven’t identified that person yet. The defense lawyer says they’re looking for that person,” KOAT legal expert John Day said in the report.
According to police reports obtained by the news station, Martens gave police a detailed account of watching Kelley and Gonzalez rape, murder, and partially dismember her daughter. When police arrived to Martens’s Albuquerque apartment, they found the little girl’s body on fire in the bathtub.
The girl’s mother reportedly told police that after her daughter was murdered, she had sex with Gonzalez and made tacos for the three of them.
Day reportedly said it is fairly common practice for defense attorneys to challenge statements their clients have made to police as they prepare for trial.
[Feature image: Facebook/Victoria Martens]