ARIZONA NEWS

Man accused of killing Christine Mustafa goes on trial Monday

Feb 25, 2019, 11:19 AM | Updated: 11:19 am
(MCSO photo)...
(MCSO photo)
(MCSO photo)

PHOENIX — The man accused of killing 34-year-old Christine Mustafa went on trial for the murder Monday, even though authorities have not yet located her body.

Robert John Interval Jr., Mustafa’s ex, is being tried on one count of first-degree murder. He was arrested in June 2017, about one month after Mustafa was last heard from.

Monica Lindstrom, KTAR News 92.3 FM’s legal analyst, said the absence of a body could help or hurt Interval in this trial.

“It could help the defendant by arguing there is no proof the victim is dead or there’s no proof linking the defendant with the victim. It could hurt the defendant if there’s other evidence pointing to the defendant,” she said Monday.

“In this case, there’s circumstantial evidence that connects the defendant to the murder because of materials found in the home that contained blood and blood found on the walls.”

Mustafa was reported missing on May 11, 2017, after she failed to show for work and was not found when police went to her home to do a welfare check.

Officers found her car, purse and cellphone at her home near Deer Valley and Cave Creek roads.

Court documents said investigators also found pillowcases and bedsheets containing a small amount of “possible blood-stained material” during a search.

The documents also said a chemical sprayed on the walls as part of the investigation had a reaction that indicated the presence of blood or other biological material.

At the time, police said Interval arrived at the home and told them Mustafa had left for work on foot.

Family members told police that Mustafa feared Interval and planned to leave him.

Last year, authorities searched a Phoenix-area landfill for her body for three months without any sign of her remains.

More than 275 volunteers from multiple agencies sifted through 43,001,653 pounds of debris in the attempt to locate her body.

Phoenix Police paid $1.3 million of the search, which cost $1.5 million total. The rest was paid for by other agencies and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

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Man accused of killing Christine Mustafa goes on trial Monday