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Longoria guilty as charged

By DARCY GRAY

Special to The Hays Daily News

GREAT BEND -- Family members of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt wiped away tears and embraced Friday after Barton County jurors found Adam Longoria guilty of capital murder in DeBolt's August 2010 death.

DeBolt was "tricked by" the 38-year-old Longoria, who in text messages lured her from her Great Bend home Aug. 21, 2010, on the promise of a party with "lots of people," Kevin O'Connor, special assistant Kansas attorney general, told jurors Friday.

Instead, Longoria took 14-year-old DeBolt to a Venture Corp. asphalt plant southwest of Great Bend where he had worked that day, sexually assaulted her, covered her mouth with duct tape and burned her body, O'Connor said.

Jurors were given the option of lesser charges of first-degree murder and intentional second-degree murder, but after a two-week trial and about three and a half hours of deliberations, they deemed Longoria guilty of capital murder on all three theories charged -- that he committed criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy and attempted rape during or after the slaying. They also found him guilty of vehicle burglary and theft for stealing a Venture Corp. vehicle Aug. 27, 2010, to flee amid the murder investigation.

Longoria showed no emotion as the verdict was read. District Judge Hannelore Kitts scheduled sentencing for June 8, and O'Connor said the judge will sentence Longoria on one of the capital murder charges after the state makes its recommendation.

"It doesn't bring her back, but it does bring justice to Adam Longoria," O'Connor said after the verdict was read.

The jury received the capital murder case at 11:08 a.m. Friday after listening to intense closing arguments from attorneys.

DeBolt last was seen at approximately 11 p.m. Aug. 21, 2010, leaving her Great Bend home in a black SUV to go to a party. Her burned body was found three days later at Venture Corp.'s Dundee asphalt plant.

O'Connor reminded jurors in closing arguments of Longoria's first text message to DeBolt -- "Good morning, beautiful" -- after meeting her July 18, 2010, at a birthday party at his house for his ex-girlfriend Eva Brown. During the next month, leading up to DeBolt's death, Longoria "had been texting to try and get with this little girl," O'Connor said.

It "ultimately led to her burned, charred body lying in dirt and mud."

"You also see a little girl trying to avoid him," O'Connor said, referring to how DeBolt several times did not respond to Longoria's text messages. "... But he continued to pursue a little girl."

O'Connor also cited several other pieces of evidence to jurors to show Longoria's intentions: Longoria shutting off his phone after he picked up DeBolt, the gas found on his shoes that night, the use of duct tape, using fire to destroy evidence, his semen mixed with DeBolt's DNA in the black SUV he drove, and "desperately" asking several people to say he was at Willie J's nightclub the night DeBolt disappeared.

"He came home and changed," O'Connor said, referring to Brown's testimony of what Longoria did the night of Aug. 21, 2010. "It's not just throwing (the clothes) away -- it's throwing them away after you washed them.

"And you're washing them at midnight. Why?"

Defense attorneys with the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit conceded Friday that Longoria was guilty of vehicle burglary and theft for stealing a Venture Corp. vehicle Aug. 27, 2010, amid the homicide investigation. He was stopped by the Kansas Highway Patrol that day on Interstate 70 west of Salina after a statewide alert was issued.

"Things were closing in on Adam Longoria," O'Connor said. "What did he do? He fled. He wasn't going to a rodeo in Texas."

Jeffrey Wicks, Longoria's attorney, argued Longoria stole the Venture Corp. Ford Explorer because he got "paranoid" after his home was searched and people "started pointing the finger at him."

Wicks reminded the jury it didn't hear from Ivan Ramirez or "Giovanni," with whom DeBolt told her mom she was leaving home with Aug. 21, 2010, to go to a party. He also argued text messages between DeBolt and Ramirez between July 2010 and the day of her death indicate DeBolt was pursuing Ramirez, who, like Longoria, had asked for pictures of DeBolt, but their relationship had deteriorated.

Longoria did send inappropriate messages to DeBolt, Wicks acknowledged, but he argued that did not prove he murdered her. Wicks also pointed to the unknown male DNA found in DeBolt's mouth that was not Longoria's.

"Look over here folks, let's blame the guy in Mexico, let's blame Giovanni," O'Connor countered, referring to defense arguments and witness testimony Ramirez now is in Mexico.

O'Connor told the jurors they heard what they needed to hear to convict Longoria, noting witnesses testified they were with Ivan "all night" at Willie J's nightclub the night DeBolt disappeared.

Although officials could not pinpoint the time of DeBolt's death, O'Connor reminded the jury of Longoria's text messages. After DeBolt gave Longoria her address, Longoria sent DeBolt a text message that said, "I'm here," at approximately 11 p.m. Aug. 21, 2010, and then shut off his phone.

O'Connor asked jurors whether it was possible DeBolt did not tell her mother she was leaving with Longoria because her mother would not have allowed it.

"Maybe this little girl was trying to be a little older than she was, but he was a lot older," O'Connor said. "A 14-year-old girl is not to blame when you're dealing with a 36-year-old man."

The state no longer is seeking the death penalty for Longoria, but the capital murder charge still carries a sentence of life in prison without parole.