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Police Oversight Agency Investigates Spokespeople Behind Victoria Martens Case

Police Oversight Agency Investigates Spokespeople Behind Victoria Martens Case

Complaint Accuses APD Of Lying To The Media

The Civilian Police Oversight Agency is investigating a complaint that two Albuquerque Police Department spokespeople basically lied to the news media when they claimed the department had sent detectives to check on the status of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in the months prior to her vicious murder.

The complaint was filed in March by former law enforcement officer James Larson. CPOA Executive Director Ed Harness said Wednesday that his agency is actively investigating the complaint.

Larson, an Albuquerque resident who worked with the U.S. Secret Service and the Dallas Police Department, said he filed the complaint against APD spokespeople Celina Espinoza and Fred Duran because he wanted “somebody held accountable.”

“I wanted to know who is doing this,” Larson said. “The chief doesn’t seem to give a damn. If I was the chief of police I would ask ‘how did this happen?’ We can’t just say oops.”

Earlier this year, Espinoza told an Albuquerque Journal reporter that APD had sent detectives to check on Martens in the months prior to her brutal murder in August 2016. Those detectives were allegedly sent to Martens’ home after the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department received a complaint that the boyfriend of the girl’s mother had tried to kiss the girl.

But APD could produce no police or dispatch reports showing that its officers actually investigated the complaint. Later, Espinoza told the Journal reporter that she had given the reporter incorrect information.

Espinoza claimed that incorrect information was the result of a miscommunication on her part.

Martens was killed, raped and dismembered in August 2016.

Larson said he wanted to know who at APD told Espinoza and Duran that detectives had been sent to Martens’ home.

“I don’t know how they could come up with that information,” Larson said. “The information was specific and it turned out that it never happened. I hesitate to say that they are lying, but it is almost inescapable.”

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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