ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Could the murder of 10-year old Victoria Martens have been prevented?
KRQE News 13 has learned that the suspect at the center of the girl’s murder was supposed to be on supervised probation.
Somehow, Fabian Gonzales slipped through the cracks, and now multiple state agencies are investigating how it all happened.
Gonzales, 32, is accused of raping and strangling 10-year-old Victoria Martens Tuesday night at a northwest Albuquerque apartment complex near Irving Blvd. and Golf Course Rd.
When addressing reporters Wednesday night as police were taking Gonzales to jail, he denied any role in the girl’s death.
Gonzales has been in trouble before though, and one of his previous cases raises new questions about whether or not the state could have stopped Gonzales before the death of Victoria Martens occurred.
Court records obtained by KRQE News 13 show Albuquerque Police arrested Gonzales in August 2014. The arrest stemmed from an incident that unfolded in a moving car where Gonzales was a passenger and a now-former girlfriend was driving. The couple’s child was also in the back in the car.
According to the criminal complaint, a witness called 911 after seeing Gonzales hitting the woman. Police stopped the car in the parking lot of a Motel 6 on Coors Blvd. & Iliff Road in northwest Albuquerque, and found the woman with marks on her face.
The victim told police that Gonzales had repeatedly hit the woman in the eye and face, causing her to temporarily lose control of the car. Police arrested Gonzales and charged him with battery and child abuse for putting the baby in danger.
In February 2015, Gonzales took a deal in the case and pleaded guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. A judge sentenced Gonzales to two years supervised probation under the supervision of the New Mexico Department of Corrections. The judge also order Gonzales to two years of incarceration as part of his sentence, but that prison time was “suspended.”
According to court records, Gonzales’ probation should have run until February 2017, to include drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, random drug testing and surprise home visits from probation officers, among other forms of supervision. If Gonzales violated his probation, he would have gone to jail. He also could have likely faced the two-years of incarceration that were considered “suspended” under his plea-deal.
However, Gonzales never faced any of those punishments. His supervised probation was completely unknown to the New Mexico Department of Corrections.
KRQE News 13 interviewed New Mexico Department of Corrections Deputy Secretary of Administration Alex Sanchez about Gonzales’ probation case.
“Is this something that you were aware of?” asked KRQE News 13 Reporter Chris McKee, in reference to the judge’s order sentencing Gonzales to supervised probation.
“We were not aware of this plea agreement until this morning it came to our attention, we never received the documentation to say that he had entered into this agreement,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez says probation officers never got word they were supposed to be watching Gonzales. As a standard practice, the record keepers in the clerk’s office of the Second Judicial District Court (Bernalillo County) are supposed to alert the state Department of Corrections if they have a new probation case. The alert would come through the forwarding of paperwork from court to corrections offices. KRQE News 13 has learned that the Second Judicial District’s probation orders are electronically uploaded to the Department of Correction’s servers multiple times a week.
While the Department of Corrections says its investigation is ongoing, so far, department officials don’t believe they did anything wrong or made a mistake on their end.
“From the review we’ve done so far, we at the Department of Corrections don’t believe there was any mistake on our end,” said Sanchez. “Again, we were never notified of this judgement and sentence, so we had no way to supervise Mr. Gonzales, and as you can see, the judgement and sentence even had errors on it.”
Sanchez detailed errors on the “judgement and sentence” report to include the incorrect date that the probation order indicates it was “sentenced.” On the paper filed in District Court, the sentencing date is hand-written as “February 2014.” Gonzales wasn’t arrested in the case until August 2014. He was truly sentenced in February 2015.
“We’ll do a top to bottom review of this entire situation, everything from inmate (Jessica) Kelley and her time with us, to Mr. Gonzales and how this happened,” said Sanchez.
On Friday morning, officials with the Second Judicial District Court fired back at the allegations made by the Department of Corrections, claiming a paper trail shows court officials did, in fact, alert the Department of Corrections about Gonzales.
“What we have indicates that this document, his plea agreement, was sent to probation and parole on February 25 of 2015,” Jim Noel, Court Executive Officer, said.
Noel revealed the email that was sent to firstname.lastname@example.org that contained a single PDF attachment of all the day’s probation violations and judgement and sentences, to include Gonzales’.
“At a time when the community is mourning this tragic loss, what we’ve got is an executive agency that’s pointing the finger everywhere else but at itself,” Noel said.
KRQE News 13 reached back out to the Department of Corrections with the information from Noel. Sanchez said the Department of Corrections email that was used didn’t work, and that it stands behind its claim that it did not receive Gonzales’ paperwork.
According to the criminal complaint associated with the murder, Fabian Gonzales only met Michelle Martens and her daughter Victoria about a month before Victoria was murdered. Before that, online court records indicate that Martens only had a history of child support related cases, but no criminal arrests.
Would that have changed if the state had Fabian Gonzales on its radar, like he should have been? It’s a question with no way of answering, in a case that has everyone asking, “why?”
Reps with CYFD say the three suspects were not on their radar for sexual or physical abuse, but that’s not to say they weren’t aware of the three at all. Right now, it’s unclear if or how CYFD was involved.