Attorneys for Adam Longoria have filed a new motion seeking to have his case thrown out of court, saying the Kansas Attorney General’s Office has prejudiced potential jurors through the media. At the same time, defense attorneys are asking the court to reinstate some of the privileges Longoria lost after making statements to reporters this past summer.
Longoria is scheduled to appear in Barton County District Court at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Two days have been set aside for a preliminary hearing on amended capital murder charges and for District Judge Hannelore Kitts to deal with pre-trial motions. Prosecutors allege that Longoria committed the premeditated murder of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt on or about Aug. 21, 2010, after attempting to rape her. He is also charged with indecent solicitation of a child, and with the burglary and theft of a vehicle.
Last Friday, attorneys from the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit filed a motion for dismissal, saying Longoria’s constitutional rights had been violated, including his right to a fair trial by an objective, impartial and unbiased jury. "Exhibit A" is a front-page story from The Great Bend Tribune published July 12 with the headline, "Attorney alleges pair exchanged texts."
The motion states the media were "enthralled" with Longoria by the time he was charged with vehicle burglary and theft on Aug. 27, 2010, and that a "frenzy of speculation, hate, and rage continued into Sept. 7, 2010, when Mr. Longoria moved from a ‘person of interest’ to the defendant in this matter." It goes on to note the Kansas Attorney General’s Office spoke with the media about the case until the court issued a gag order on public statements outside of court.
Defense attorneys claim the prosecutors have attempted to make an "end run around the court order" by making statements in the form of motions, which are mostly open to public view. For example, the state’s motion seeking to introduce photos of DeBolt taken after her death contained "graphic descriptions of how the body of Alicia DeBolt was found and how it appeared to unnamed employees of Venture Corporation." ...
"The nature of how Ms. DeBolt’s body appeared when discovered, the thoughts of those who discovered it, nor the findings of the medical examiner contained within the autopsy report were relevant to what the state was seeking, admission of photos. The only plausible reason for the state to have included the information that it did is to place information into the jury pool well before the trial of this matter is to begin."
The state motion filed June 30 was quoted in the cited Tribune story and by other media. The defense’s motion calls the "Motion to Introduce Evidence of the Defendant’s Relationship with Alicia DeBolt" the state's "most heinous, atrocious, and cruel attack upon the Constitutional principal of a fair trial. ... (It) is in reality nothing more than a desire to turn up the heat on the pressure cooker of Great Bend, Kansas, to insure that prospective jurors know clearly the State’s theory of the case and to inflame their passion."
Longoria himself violated the court’s gag order by making statements to reporters, prompting the State to file a "Motion to Sever Defendant’s Privileges" on July 22. Longoria’s attorneys concede that he violated the order but add, "Even with the obviousness of the violation and the response the Court was sure to take, the State could not avoid snark and hyperbole." Citing Assistant Attorney General Vic Braden’s use of scripture in his motion and the statement that Longoria should be ashamed of his statements, the defense motion states: "It is Mr. Braden, an officer of the court, who should be ashamed of his deliberate and malicious attempt over and over to deny Mr. Longoria a fair trial before a jury of his peers and instead try him in the court of public opinion."
A separate motion filed by the defense on Sept. 27 seeks to reinstate some of the privileges Longoria lost on July 22. The order severed or restricted his phone, visitation and mail privileges. Longoria’s attorneys state "sufficient time has passed to make clear to Mr. Longoria that his actions can and do have ramifications."