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Man accused of kidnapping and killing 13-year-old Tucson girl is found guilty

Jurors found Christopher Clements guilty on kidnapping and first-degree murder charges Friday in the death of 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez.

It’s the first of two long-awaited trials in Pima County that Clements faces in connection with the deaths of two Tucson girls — Gonzalez, who went missing in 2014, and 6-year-old Isabel Celis, who went missing in 2012. 

Clements wasn’t arrested until 2018, after authorities connected him to both cases.

As the Arizona Daily Star  reports, prosecutors built their case using cellphone records, internet search histories and testimonies from 24 witnesses, including Clements’ girlfriend at the time of the murder. His defense presented witnesses to dispute state experts, but did not call character witnesses or establish an alibi. Clements also did not take the stand himself.

The trial began Sept. 13 and was expected to wrap up by the end of the month. Jurors spent less than two days deliberating before convicting Clements on Friday afternoon. The court will reconvene to decide on his sentencing date in October.

State law requires he spend at least 35 years in prison under a life sentence, up from a 25-year minimum because Maribel is a minor. He will face trial for Celis' killing in February of next year.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.