Court documents: Victim attacked in 2008 cold case helped lead police to suspect

Justin Hansen
Justin Hansen

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 has obtained court documents that show Brittani Marcell led Albuquerque Police detectives right to her accused attacker nine years after the shovel attack in her home left her without memories of who did it.

She started remembering, and that helped solve one of Albuquerque’s scariest cold cases.

“Overwhelmed, emotional but to say the least, I’m real thankful,” said Brittani’s mother, Diane.

Marcell woke up from a coma weeks after the attack in 2008 with no memory of who did it, but after working closely with detectives over the years to regain her memory, she remembered some key details.

“She would go through yearbooks and social media at the request of some of the detectives, or look at pictures to see if it would jog her brain,” Brittani’s mom said.

For a long time, all police knew was that when Marcell was 17, she left Cibola High School to grab lunch at her nearby home. When she got inside, a man attacked her with a shovel.

Her mom came home and the attacker ran off. It wasn’t until two years ago that Marcell started to remember what her attacker looked like. 

In 2015, police released an updated sketch of the suspect based on Brittani’s description. Two years later, police now say they have arrested 33-year-old Justin Hansen for Marcell’s attempted murder.

It’s a name that in October of 2016, Marcell told police she had on her mind, according to court documents. She said he used to visit her at work at Cottonwood Mall.

The documents show that when police asked Hansen for DNA, he refused. So they went undercover instead and collected his DNA from a McDonald’s cup he had thrown away.

Police say it matched the DNA from blood found at the crime scene on a broken window.

Thursday, Marcell’s family told KRQE News 13 about how Brittani reacted to news of Hansen’s arrest.

“She’s like, ‘They caught him, they caught him,’ and that, just the excitement, I haven’t heard that excitement in a long time. It’s such a relief that he’s not on the streets,” Kathlein Guinn, Marcell’s sister, said.

Hansen is currently in jail with no bond. The District Attorney filed a motion in court to keep it that way, arguing there’s strong evidence against him.

A judge will rule on that in an upcoming hearing.

After the beating, Marcell had to relearn how to walk and talk. She was left blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. Marcell moved out of state and eventually got her college degree.

Her sisters say she was on vacation right when she got news of Hansen’s arrest.

(LISTEN BELOW) Full interview with Brittani’s mom, Diane Marcell: provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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