GREAT BEND — As deputies escorted Adam Longoria into the courtroom Tuesday, he squinted. For more than a week, authorities had been referring to Longoria as a "person of interest" in the killing of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt.
But as the 36-year-old walked into the Barton County courtroom Tuesday morning, he was no longer only a "person of interest." He stood before a television news camera, microphones, a dozen journalists, a dozen law enforcement personnel and a front row filled with Alicia's family.
Seconds later, in the hushed courtroom, Judge Hannelore Kitts told the former Texas prison inmate that he was being charged with capital murder and sodomy with a child — identified in the charges by her initials, "A.D."
With the capital murder charge, Longoria could face the death penalty if convicted.
Kitts set his bond at $1.5 million.
The charges say the crimes took place on or about Aug. 21 or 22, after the Great Bend cheerleader left home and was reportedly seen getting into a vehicle.
After the hearing, Attorney General Steve Six, who is prosecuting the case, told reporters that he did not anticipate charging anyone else in Alicia's death.
The capital murder charge alleges that Alicia was killed "during the commission of, or subsequent to, the crime of criminal sodomy." The sodomy charge notes the victim was under 16.
Six again declined to comment on the specific cause of death. The teen's body was found burned.
Asked why he couldn't discuss specifics of the case, Six said it will be a "heavily scrutinized" case because it involves the possibility of the death penalty.
"All the details will be set forth in open court,'' he said.
Without elaborating, Six criticized some of the things being said about the case online. He said some of the comments were "horrible," "judgmental," "off-base."
Alicia was last seen leaving her home late the night of Aug. 21, supposedly to attend a party. There had been initial reports that she left with a 19-year-old man. A few days later, an employee found her burned body at an asphalt plant several miles west of Great Bend where Longoria had worked hours before Alicia disappeared.
The reaction to the charges was mixed.
Brian Trudeau, a 33-year-old father of a young child, said he remains confused about initial reports that Alicia left with a 19-year-old when authorities have charged only a 36-year-old man.
Trudeau said he thinks authorities are holding back too many details. "Why are they keeping it so hidden?"
Trudeau said he's still not convinced that everyone involved in the crimes has been caught.
Tiffany Serna, whose teenage daughter was a friend of Alicia's, said the fact that someone has been charged is a "big relief" to her. Serna said it makes her feel that her daughter is safer, "but not totally."
The killing of a 14-year-old has jolted people's sense of security, she said. "I never thought anything like that would happen here."
Serna said she hopes the charges will begin to help Alicia's family find peace.
When the judge asked Longoria whether he understood the charges, he first nodded. Prompted by his attorney, Jeff Wicks, Longoria then said, "Yeah." As he stood before Kitts, eight officers lined the wall behind him.
Before being led off by deputies, he stared at the ceiling.
Longoria is being represented by attorneys with the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit.
Six said the $1.5 million bond that he requested was "entirely appropriate" to ensure public safety and Longoria's appearance in court.
He said he was "grateful to the community of Great Bend for their patience" during the investigation that led to the charges.
A preliminary hearing date has yet to be set.
Longoria had been named a "person of interest" in Alicia's death a few days after her body was found. He already was being held on charges of vehicle burglary and theft related to an SUV that was stolen Aug. 27 from the paving business that employed him. The Kansas Highway Patrol arrested him on I-70 outside of Salina.
Longoria moved to Great Bend in May after being released from a Texas prison. His criminal record included convictions for burglary and robbery.
He had been living in Great Bend with a girlfriend and her two children. He became acquainted with the Great Bend woman, through letters, while he was in prison.
Alicia was about to enter her freshman year at Great Bend High School.
Hundreds of people attended a memorial service for her last Friday.