Adam Longoria found guilty of capital murder in killing of 14-year-oldBy Tim Potter
The Wichita Eagle
It was silent, and tension showed on the faces of Alicia DeBolts family as they waited for jurors to walk back into the courtroom and give their verdict in Adam Longorias capital murder trial.
She was a 14-year-old girl who never got to start her freshman year of high school. In August 2010, she disappeared after getting into an SUV outside her Great Bend home, apparently thinking she was going to a party. Workers found her badly burned body, her face covered in duct tape, at a secluded asphalt plant where Longoria had worked. Day after day since last week, her family filled three rows reserved for them in the courtroom so they could hear the testimony.
They wanted justice. Friday afternoon, they got it.
After deliberating about 3 and a half hours, the jury found Longoria guilty of everything he had been charged with in Alicias death: capital murder and all three underlying sex crimes alleged: two forms of sodomy and attempted rape. They also found him guilty of breaking into and stealing his employers truck in what prosecutors said was his attempt to flee when investigators focused on him.
With the capital murder conviction, Longoria, 38, faces life in prison without parole. His sentencing will be June 8. Although he could have faced the death penalty, prosecutors had chosen not to pursue it because of legal issues, and Alicias family supported the decision.
Right after the verdict was read, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Bauch briefly turned to make eye contact with Alicias family. Bauch smiled respectfully.
Alicias older sister embraced Great Bend police Detective Heather Smith, one of the investigators.
The family had shown little emotion during the trial. With the verdict, they openly cried.
Later, they stood together holding hands outside the courthouse as they had a statement read for them. They said their faith and strength had been tested, but, In the end, we stand strong as a family knowing that today, there is justice for Alicia. They want people to know not just what happened to Alicia but who she was: a bright, beautiful burst of energy. She loved all things teenagers love texting, shopping, cheerleading, and boys. We miss her voice, her laugh, and yes, even her messes.
There are lessons that we have learned from Alicia that we want to share. Parents, talk to your kids even when they dont want to talk to you and always pay attention to the people they are spending time with. Teenagers, listen to your parents. Be careful of older people who want to be your friend.
Kevin OConnor, the special assistant attorney general who made a passionate argument to jurors earlier Friday, telling them they had heard overwhelming evidence proving Longoria guilty, said any happiness with the guilty verdict was qualified.
It doesnt bring her back, but it brings Adam Longoria to justice.
In closing arguments, OConnor told the jurors they had plenty of damning evidence against Longoria, including text messages, DNA, destruction of evidence and his attempts to create an alibi.
OConnor told jurors they had to consider the evidence as a whole: the badly burned body of the girl left in the mud at an asphalt plant, text messages from Longoria, then 36, in which he called Alicia hot stuff, his girlfriends statements that he and the vehicle he used came back smelling of gasoline, that he washed his clothes and got rid of them, that he bought half a gallon of gasoline a little over an hour after Alicia disappeared, his and her DNA in semen on the drivers floor mat of the SUV he used that night. Finally, OConnor said, Longoria tried to create an alibi and fled in a stolen truck.
OConnor asked the jurors to use their common sense.
Melted duct tape found across her face and on her ankle showed intent to commit the crime, he said. At some point, this little girl was restrained.
Its not easy to burn a body, so Longoria got more fuel, he said. Is he buying that gas to fill up the lawn mower the next day? Do you really believe that?
About destruction of evidence by the burning, OConnor said: What part of her body is destroyed? The genital area.
He noted evidence that Longoria cleaned his shoes later that night to the point of soaking his shoelaces in bleach. Is that just a coincidence?
About the alibi attempt, he said, Longoria told a lot of people to tell police he was at a certain bar that night, when he was never there.
The semen stain was consistent with a sodomy involving oral sex that Alicia was forced into, he said.
Alicia thought Longoria was taking her to a party with others, he said.
Shes a teenager. And maybe this little girl was trying to be older than she was. But hes a lot older than she was.
Defense attorney Jeff Wicks pointed the finger at other men he said should have been suspects.
When he got his turn to defend Longoria to the jurors, he noted evidence in a number of text messages showing Alicia was involved with another man, that they had exchanged sexually suggestive texts and that their relationship was deteriorating.
Although Longoria sent texts to Alicia asking for her picture, just asking for pictures is not evidence of murder, Wicks said.
This is a terrible case and people have a right to be angry, but that shouldnt affect the jurys decision, he said.
No one saw Longorias SUV at the asphalt plant, but witnesses did see other vehicles leaving a road that leads to the plant, he said.
Wicks noted that investigators couldnt find any blood or accelerants in Longorias SUV.
The semen stain, Wicks said, could be explained by Longoria telling someone that he had previously had sex with Alicia after meeting her at a party about a month before she disappeared.
Wicks seized on evidence showing that unknown male DNA found in Alicias mouth was not from Longoria. Later, OConnor would say that the DNA in her mouth was a minute amount and it could have come from contamination during the processing of her body.
It would only compound the tragedy of Alicias killing to convict the wrong man, Wicks said.
OConnor, who got to go last, told the jury, You do not compound the tragedy by convicting the person whos responsible for the crimes.Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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