ARIZONA NEWS

Man convicted of killing 6-year-old Tucson girl sentenced to ‘natural life’ prison term

Apr 10, 2024, 6:00 PM

FILE - This undated file photo released by the Tucson Police Department on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018...

FILE - This undated file photo released by the Tucson Police Department on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, shows Christopher Matthew Clements, 36. (Tucson Police Department via AP, File)

(Tucson Police Department via AP, File)

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A man convicted of killing a 6-year-old Tucson girl, whose body was found years later in a remote desert area, was sentenced Wednesday to a natural life prison term.

Before sentencing, Christopher Clements read a rambling statement in court and said he didn’t feel he was given a fair trial.

“I still maintain my innocence,” said Clements, who declined to testify in his own defense during his trial.

Two months ago, the 42-year-old was found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and burglary in the death of Isabel Celis, who vanished from her parents’ home in 2012.

“Until the day I die, I will feel responsible for not doing my job and protecting my little girl from the evil that lurked outside her window,” her father, Sergio Celis, told the court Wednesday.

Clements became a suspect in Isabel Celis’ death in 2017 when he told FBI agents that he could lead them to the girl’s remains in exchange for having charges in an unrelated burglary case dropped, according to Tucson police. He had said he had nothing to do with her death.

“He took her childhood away from her, “Becky Celis, the girl’s mother, said about Clements. “In my opinion, Christopher has no remorse… His punishment should be natural life in prison with no parole.”

Clements’ Feb. 29 conviction came in a retrial of the Celis case after a different Pima County Superior Court jury failed to reach a verdict in 2023.

Judge James Marner also sentenced Clements on Wednesday to a 17-year prison term for kidnapping and 3 ½ years for burglary, all to be served consecutively to previous convictions.

Clements already is serving a natural life prison sentence for the 2014 killing of 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez, who disappeared while walking to a friend’s house. Her body was found days later, also in a desert area.

Clements was arrested in 2018 in the deaths of the two girls. He was sentenced in 2022 for kidnapping and killing Gonzalez.

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Man convicted of killing 6-year-old Tucson girl sentenced to ‘natural life’ prison term