One of three people involved in the horrifying rape, dismemberment and murder of a 10-year-old girl in 2016 has taken a plea deal a day before she was due to go to trial.
In August 2016, Jessica Kelley was involved in the death of 10-year-old Victoria Martens at her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Kelley and her cousin Fabian Gonzales were first said to have raped Victoria while her mother, Michelle Martens, watched, then killed her.
All three were charged after Victoria’s body was found stabbed, wrapped in a blanket and set on fire in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Victoria’s mother, a meth addict, told police initially that she watched as Gonzales and his cousin raped her daughter then said they killed her.
Since then, their stories have changed multiple times and prosecutors now believe that a fourth, as yet unidentified suspect, was involved in the killing.
DNA evidence found on Victoria’s body belonged to another man and cell phone data revealed that neither the girl’s mother nor her boyfriend were in the apartment when she died.
On Monday, a day before she was due to go to trial for murder and rape, Kelley pleaded guilty to child abuse recklessly caused, resulting in death, tampering with evidence and aggravated assault.
Victoria was strangled to death and an autopsy report revealed she had been given alcohol and had contacted an STD.
Another man’s DNA was found on her body and there was no physical evidence to suggest she had been given methamphetamine, as her mother told police.
In June, prosecutors dropped murder charges against the trio in a sudden twist of events.
At the time, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez said the evidence did not support what Michelle had said about the killing.
‘Everyone in the immediate aftermath of this crime focused on the statement Michelle Martens made and they took it at face value.
‘The pieces of this puzzle just didn’t fit,’ he said, adding the story that Kelley and Gonzales raped and killed Victoria in front of her was ‘simply not true.’
All three are still accused of child abuse.
Some of Victoria’s remains were found in a hamper in the kitchen of an apartment her mother lived in.
The torched remains that had been set on fire were found in the bathtub.
Gonzales has always denied having any role in her murder. Kelley was on parole for rape at the time of the young girl’s death.