Opening statements began Tuesday in the case of a Tucson man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death, with defense attorneys insisting that the wrong man is standing trial.

Chet Jack Wadsworth Maley was arrested Nov. 21, 2016, in connection with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Roxanne Ortiz, earlier that morning.

Maley, who was 25 at the time of his arrest, is facing charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Michelle Chamblee walked the jury through an overview of the state’s case during her opening statement, beginning with the brutal nature of Ortiz’s death.

“Roxanne Ortiz was only 29 years old when she was viciously murdered by Chet Maley,” Chamblee said, adding that Ortiz was stabbed twice in the neck, twice in the stomach and once on the side of her back. “What started as an altercation at Circle K led to a violent, brutal attack.”

Maley and Ortiz drove up to the gas pumps at the Circle K near Flowing Wells and Roger roads at about 5:20 a.m. Ortiz went into the store, bought an orange juice and stood on the sidewalk in front of the store, Chamblee told the jury.

Two eyewitnesses will testify during the trial that they saw the couple arguing and heard screaming minutes before one of the witnesses found Ortiz lying on the ground near Chariot Pizza, bleeding heavily from her wounds, Chamblee said.

Police and paramedics attempted to render aid to Ortiz, who was pronounced deceased at the scene at 5:37 a.m.

Chamblee showed the jury security footage from Chariot pizza, showing a man pick up Ortiz, drag her across the parking lot and throw her over a wall, before leaning over and stabbing her repeatedly. When he was done, the man hopped over the wall before stabbing Ortiz one final time. Additional footage showed the same man running across the parking lot.

Police said they arrested Maley several hours later when he attempted to return to his home.

Officers collected DNA evidence linking Maley to Ortiz’s car, and Ortiz’s mother will testify that the couple was at her house until at least 4:37 a.m.

“Roxanne Ortiz was with the defendant from the time she picked him up (from work) to the time she was stabbed,” Chamblee told the jury, adding that while they may not get answers as to why Maley killed Ortiz, the evidence will prove that he did.

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Maley’s attorney, Katie Stoll, told the jury that she doesn’t deny what happened to Ortiz is sad.

“What the state got wrong is the person they arrested,” Stoll said.

Both of the state’s eyewitnesses are expected to testify that the person they saw with Ortiz was wearing a long-sleeve white button-down shirt and was between 5 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 11 inches tall, but other witnesses will testify that he was wearing black when he left work at 11:45 the night before and also when he showed up at his friend’s father’s house at 9:30 the next morning, Stoll told the jury.

Another discrepancy in eyewitness testimony is that Maley stands 6 feet 2 inches tall, Stoll said, before pointing out the lack of blood evidence linking Maley and Ortiz, despite the violent nature of the crime.

“Please remember the judge’s instruction not to consider sympathy for the victim or her family,” Stoll urged the jury. “If you consider all the evidence carefully, you’ll see that he’s not guilty.”

The trial is scheduled to last through April 19, but Judge Deborah Bernini said that the case was expected to be turned over to the jury for deliberation by Tuesday, April 16.

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at cschmidt@tucson.com or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlincschmidt

I'm a watchdog reporter covering local government, the University of Arizona and sports investigations.