Arizona seeks to drop charges in 1997 death of pregnant teen

Prosecutors in Yavapai County are seeking to dismiss a murder case against a man accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend more than 20 years ago.

Cecilio Cruz, 40, was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the deaths of Marisol Gonzalez and their unborn child. Her body was found in an alley between the homes they lived in as teenagers in Cottonwood in 1997.

Cruz went on trial earlier this month, but a jury failed to reach a verdict in the case.

Prosecutors have 60 days to retry the case, but Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said Tuesday she won’t take that route with the same evidence.

Her office filed a motion Tuesday in Yavapai County Superior Court to dismiss the case against Cruz without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled.

"My heart goes out to the family of Marisol for the inability of the criminal justice system to help them find closure in the death of their loved one," Polk said in a statement. "However, the book is not closed on this case."

MORE: Arizona jury gets case of man accused of killing teen girl

Cruz’s attorney, Alex D. Gonzalez, didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment Tuesday evening. He hasn’t filed a response to the motion in court. A judge has the final say.

Prosecutors had no physical evidence or DNA linking Cruz to the crime and no eyewitnesses. A small-caliber gun believed to have been used in the fatal shooting of Marisol Gonzalez never was found.

Witnesses during the trial sometimes had a hard time remembering details around the time. Police in Cottonwood have said some people they questioned weren’t forthcoming with information.

During the trial, prosecutor Steve Young sought to tie Cruz to the killing by telling jurors that no one could account for Cruz’s whereabouts around the time Gonzalez was killed.

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