ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico girl was strangled to death on her 10th birthday before she was dismembered and her remains set on fire, according to an autopsy released months after police uncovered the sexual abuse they say she suffered at the hands of her mother and others leading up to her killing.
The slaying of Victoria Martens sent shockwaves across the state in August and made national headlines as her mother, Michelle Martens, the mother's boyfriend and his cousin were charged. They have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges and are in custody pending an October trial.
The autopsy results, made public Monday, included evidence of prior sexual abuse and indicated that the girl was raped and strangled before her body was dismembered Aug. 23. Her spine was fractured, and she suffered both blunt and sharp injuries. Some of her organs were removed.
Police found the girl's body in a bathtub, wrapped in a smoldering blanket. They were initially called to the apartment complex over a disturbance involving the suspects, unaware of what they would find inside the home.
Michelle Martens claimed that her daughter was drugged to relax her, but toxicology tests did not turn up any drugs, only alcohol. The amount of alcohol in Victoria's system would have been enough to cause cognitive and physical impairment, according to the autopsy report.
Authorities allege that Michelle Martens watched as Fabian Gonzales raped and killed her daughter. Gonzales and his cousin, Jessica Kelley, are accused of dismemberment, according to court documents.
Gonzales has denied having anything to do with Victoria's death. His attorney, Tom Clark, said Tuesday that he had reviewed the autopsy results, and they did not appear helpful for the state's case.
"It's tragic that this little girl was killed, but my position is Fabian Gonzales played no role in her death," Clark said in an interview.
Michelle Martens' attorney, Gary Mitchell, said he received the autopsy results and that "some of that information in there we think is very beneficial to us and our defense," declining to go into details.
Kelley's attorney, Mark Earnest, had no comment.
According to search warrants, Michelle Martens told police she looked for men online to have sex with her daughter. The documents say the mother told investigators that she had set up encounters with at least three men before the girl was killed.
Albuquerque police have not identified any of those men. It's not clear whether any more arrests have been made.