Longoria murder trial gets started

By DARCY GRAY

Special to The Hays Daily News

GREAT BEND -- A Venture Corp. foreman said he thought his co-workers were playing a joke on him when he saw what appeared to be a burned mannequin Aug. 24, 2010, at the company's asphalt plant near Great Bend.

"I was startled," Mike Mazouch testified Thursday in Barton County District Court. "I dismissed it as being a mannequin being burned."

Mazouch was among eight people who testified Thursday in a capital murder case against 38-year-old Adam Joseph Longoria, who also worked for the Venture Corp. construction company.

Longoria is charged with killing 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt of Great Bend and formerly of Hays. DeBolt's burned body was found Aug. 24, 2010, at Venture Corp.'s Dundee asphalt plant approximately 5 miles southwest of Great Bend. He also is charged with stealing a Venture Corp. vehicle Aug. 27, 2010, to allegedly flee amid the homicide investigation.

Testimony began Thursday before District Judge Hannelore Kitts after a jury of nine men and five women were seated, including two alternates.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Bauch, in opening statements, described how a barrage of text messages between Longoria and DeBolt, formerly of Hays, began shortly after the pair met at a party late July 17, 2010, at Longoria's Great Bend home.

" 'Good morning, beautiful' -- that's the first text message Adam Longoria sent Alicia DeBolt a few hours after he met her for the first time," Bauch told jurors.

A mixture of Longoria and DeBolt's DNA was found in a black Ford Escape that Longoria drove -- which DeBolt's neighbors testified was the vehicle she left home in Aug. 21, 2010, before she disappeared.

Tim Frieden, Longoria's defense attorney with the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, told jurors, however, the evidence also will show DNA from an unknown male was found on DeBolt.

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Eighty text messages were exchanged between Longoria and DeBolt on July 18, 2010, the day after the pair met at a birthday party for Longoria's then-girlfriend, Eva Brown, Bauch said Thursday. Brown met Longoria online -- after he'd been released from a Texas prison -- and Longoria moved into Brown's Great Bend home in May 2010.

On Aug. 21, 2010, Longoria worked at the Dundee asphalt plant before Brown told his employer he had to leave for a "family emergency," Bauch told jurors. Longoria and Brown went out for dinner and bowling, and Brown saw him on his phone "texting," Bauch said.

"The phone records will show who he texted," Bauch said, adding Longoria sent a text message to DeBolt offering to pick her up.

Frieden told jurors the records will show messages between two phones but not who sent those messages.

Tamara Conrad, DeBolt's mother and the state's first witness, acknowledged her daughter left home at approximately 11 p.m. Aug. 21, 2010, to go to a party and said two teens named Ivan and Giovanni were picking her up. DeBolt put on new clothes bought that day in Wichita for her upcoming first day of high school, Conrad said: jean shorts, a T-shirt, shoes with neon colors, "crazy, mismatched socks," and a bracelet that said "Alicia."

She never returned home for her midnight curfew, Conrad said.

Three days later, search volunteers found DeBolt's cellphone and battery in a ditch near the asphalt plant, Bauch said in opening statements. Gas was found around her body at the plant, and Longoria was captured on surveillance video buying $1.32 in gas the night DeBolt disappeared, Bauch said. Gas also was found on a pair of shoes Longoria wore that night, Bauch said.

Bauch told jurors to expect to hear testimony from people who said Longoria asked them to tell police he was with them at local nightclub Willie J's the night DeBolt disappeared. Brown also will testify Longoria asked her to rip up his shirt he wore that night and throw it away, and she did, according to Bauch.

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Dawn DeBolt, Alicia DeBolt's 28-year-old sister, testified Great Bend police shrugged off the family when they reported concerns early Aug. 22, 2010, that something bad had happened to Alicia.

Conrad said Alicia had not come home before and said her cellphone died, but Conrad thought Alicia was back on track. She didn't file a missing person report until the afternoon of Aug. 22 because she didn't want Alicia to be taken to a juvenile detention center if she had messed up again.

Alicia talked before about how Longoria, known as "Rocko," was 25 years old, and they had exchanged text messages, Dawn said.

"It wasn't normal for an older guy like that to be hanging out with a 14-year-old girl," Dawn testified.

Dawn said she decided to do her own investigating when Alicia went missing. She called Alicia's friends, sent text messages, and spread the word online.

Dawn knocked on the door of Longoria's home, and Brown answered. When told about Alicia's disappearance, Brown responded by saying, "I never liked that little (expletive)," Dawn testified, adding she then told Brown she was Alicia's sister.

Brown called Longoria, who said on speakerphone he was a block away from DeBolt's home the night she disappeared, Dawn testified. Then Longoria "comes around the corner" of the home and said he was at Willie J's the night Alicia went missing, Dawn said.

Under cross-examination, Dawn acknowledged she also visited the homes of "Ivan and Giovanni," and when she asked Ivan if something had happened to Alicia, he "hung his head and said, 'Probably.' "