Jury deadlocks in Isabel Celis murder case in Tucson; mistrial called


After two days of deliberation, jurors in the murder case of Isabel Celis were unable to reach a unanimous verdict Friday and remained deadlocked on the murder charge against Christopher Clements in Superior Court in Tucson. The judge called for a mistrial shortly after 4 p.m.

Eleven years after Isabel’s disappearance rocked the southern Arizona city, Clements faced a jury at a trial on multiple charges related to her death. Charges against Clements, 41, included first-degree murder, kidnapping a minor under 15, and burglary.

Judge James Marner, who oversaw the three-week trial, said he received a letter from jury members stating that they remained in a deadlock on the first count. He asked if more time would help them break the deadlock. The jury foreperson replied no, and the jury was excused.

A meeting was scheduled for 4 p.m. March 27 to address the other two charges against Clements.

Isabel disappeared from her bedroom overnight in April 2012. Five years later, Clements led authorities to a remote desert area in Marana, north of Tucson, where they found bones later proven to be the girl’s remains.

Attorneys had presented their closing statements to jurors on Wednesday.

In a previous trial that ended Sept. 30, Clements was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping of 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez, who disappeared when walking to a friend’s house one evening in June 2014 in Tucson.

Her body was found near West Avra and Trico roads. Clements was sentenced to natural life in prison plus a 17-year prison term for kidnapping a teenage victim, to be served consecutively with the life sentence.

According to the Associated Press, Clements already was serving a prison sentence of up to 35 years for a Maricopa County burglary in 2017.

Clements also now faces an additional charge of making or possessing a weapon — in this case, a sharpened pencil — in connection with an incident on Feb. 7, according to information provided Tuesday by the Pima County Superior Court.

Coverage of southern Arizona on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is funded by the nonprofit Report for America in association with The Republic.

Reach the reporter at sarah.lapidus@gannett.com.