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Longoria faces life for killing teen

6/25/2012

By ROXANA HEGEMAN

By ROXANA HEGEMAN

Associated Press

WICHITA -- Nearly two years after the burned remains of a missing 14-year-old cheerleader were found at an asphalt plant, her killer will return to a Great Bend courtroom Tuesday to be sentenced in the murder case that rattled the Kansas community.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty against 38-year-old Adam Longoria, but Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts has little, if any, say in deciding his punishment. In Kansas, a conviction for first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

In April, jurors deliberated for less than four hours before convicting Longoria for the August 2010 murder of Alicia DeBolt, finding he committed criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy and attempted rape during the killing. Jurors only had needed to find one of those aggravating factors in order to return a guilty verdict for capital murder. They also found him guilty of vehicle burglary and theft.

Great Bend was so shaken by DeBolt's death that more than 2,000 people attended a vigil to remember the teen known as "Babygurl."

It is not known whether Longoria will make a statement at his sentencing. DeBolt's mother and sister are expected to make victim impact statements.

DeBolt, a former Hays resident, last was seen alive leaving her home for a party just before midnight Aug. 21, 2010. Her family reported her missing the next day, setting off a search that ended three days later when her remains, with traces of duct tape on her ankles and face, were found at the Venture Corp. plant where Longoria worked.

Investigators later found a barrage of text messages between DeBolt and the then-36-year-old Longoria, who began pursuing the girl after meeting her at a party in July 2010.

At trial, prosecutor Kevin O'Connor reminded jurors of the age disparity and noted the hundreds of text messages Longoria exchanged with DeBolt, underlining the man's obsession. Longoria's semen was found mixed with DeBolt's DNA in his vehicle.

Other evidence indicating Longoria was involved in DeBolt's grisly death included gasoline on his gym shoes and video surveillance showing him buying $1.32 of gas on the night she disappeared.

Longoria's now ex-girlfriend testified he smelled of gasoline when he came home and her car reeked of it. Several witnesses testified Longoria asked them to lie about his whereabouts that night.

Longoria was arrested after he was found driving an SUV stolen from the asphalt company.

At trial, the defense tried to cast doubt on the state's evidence, suggesting a tiny amount of DNA from an unknown male that was found in the girl's mouth indicated someone else might have killed her.

Defense attorney Jeff Wicks told jurors text messages indicated DeBolt was in a sexual relationship with another boy and suggested that boy or someone else could have killed her. His lawyer said Longoria had bragged about having sex with DeBolt, meaning her DNA could have ended up in his car on another occasion.