Barton County District Court Judge Hannelore Kitts on Monday denied a motion seeking a change of venue for the trial of Adam Longoria. The trial, currently scheduled to begin on March 26, will remain in Barton County.
Ron Keefover from the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration, acting as the designated media coordinator for this case, e-mailed the judge’s decision Monday afternoon. Her journal entry on the decision has not yet been posted.
Longoria, 37, is charged with capital murder in the death of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt of Great Bend in August 2010. The charge alleges he committed first degree murder after attempting to rape the girl. Because the state is not seeking the death penalty, if convicted of capital murder the sentence will be life in prison.
Judge Kitts ruled on several pretrial motions last Wednesday. Defense attorneys Jeff Wicks and Tim Frieden presented evidence seeking a change of venue. According to the defense, a telephone survey of 401 randomly selected Barton County residents showed 97 percent of the population is familiar with the case — and the number grows to 100 percent if the person is given one or two cues. The survey also showed most people already believe Longoria is guilty. They argued that pretrial publicity has made it impossible for Longoria to receive a fair trial here.
Prosecuting attorneys Kevin O’Connor and Andrew Bauch from the Kansas Attorney General’s Office countered that the figures don’t show Longoria can’t get an impartial jury in Barton County. The surveyor did not ask whether they could follow a judge’s instructions to set aside any prejudice and make a decision based on evidence presented at trial.