The murder trial for accused killer Adam Longoria will resume Friday morning in Barton County District Court with closing arguments after both sides rested their cases Thursday.
Proceedings opened Thursday morning with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office attorney’s resting the prosecution’s case after five days of testimony. Longoria’s defense team, from the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit, then called a handful of witnesses, but when court reconvened after lunch, it too said it was through.
Longoria is charged in the death of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt, who disappeared the night of Aug. 21, 2010. Her charred remains were found three days later at the Venture Corporation asphalt plant near Dundee. Longoria is on trial for allegedly murdering her after an attempted sexual assault.
The defense’s case
Estela Ibarra said was on her way home from Great Bend to Macksville early in the morning of Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010. She had been at a jewelry party and a friend’s house before grabbing a bite to eat and leaving town.
Under direct examination from defense attorney Tim Frieden, she said she was headed west on U.S. 56 at about 12:30 a.m. when she passed the Dundee asphalt plant. “I noticed smoke was coming out.” This seemed unusual to her because of the time.
Ibarra also saw a small, dark-colored car pull out of the plant and head back toward Great Bend. It resembled a Chevrolet Cavalier, but she wasn’t sure.
She told the jury that at the time, she didn’t know DeBolt was missing and it wasn’t until she was at work that she learned the teen’s body had been found at the plant. “Then I remembered what I saw” and contacted authorities.
However, under cross examination from prosecutor Kevin O’Connor, Ibarra said the time was approximate and she was driving at highway speed. She also noted the car pulled off the county dirt road that runs along the west side of the plant.
She was unaware there was a home down that road and that could have been where the car came from.
Janet Worden had a little more dramatic story to tell as she was questioned by Frieden. She told the jury she was on her way home to Larned at about 2:20 a.m. that same Sunday after being the designated driver for friends who had been partying.
She knows the time, because she had just texted her husband to tell him she was on her way home.
A fast-moving, dark-colored pickup pulled out the plant area as she approached on U.S. 56. It pulled into her lane, forcing her to swerve onto the shoulder. A white car and another, unidentified vehicle followed.
She was visiting with a friend and told her about what happened, and that is when she learned about DeBolt. She contacted law enforcement in Edwards County who put her in touch with officials in Barton County.
But, when cross examined by prosecutor Andrew Bauch, Worden said it was very dark, and she couldn’t identify the vehicles exactly and couldn’t see the occupants.
Bauch asked Worden about the house down the road and if she knew the road extended south to the Arkansas River, a popular party area. Those driving the three vehicles “could have been high school kids drinking.”
Defense witness and over-the-road trucker Martin Bryant told Frieden he was leaving Great Bend that Sunday evening at about dusk. “I saw smoke rising from the asphalt plant” as he headed west on 56. His wife told him about DeBolt and he put two and two together.
However, under questioning from O’Connor, Bryant said what he really saw was heat waves “rising off of what must have been a fire.” He didn’t see the smoke or flames.
“It seemed like it was large enough to burn a small structure,” he said.
It had been a hot day with temperatures in the 90s and he was driving 65 miles per hour. He said what he saw could have actually been behind the plant.
Stephanie Smith, an intelligence analyst with the KBI, returned to the stand, only this time she was called by the defense. She had testified Wednesday to text messages and cell phone records related to DeBolt and Longoria.
Thursday, she was asked by Frieden about phone numbers belonging to others, including Ivan Ramirez, who had been associated with DeBolt and were found in her phone records. Ramirez had been in contact with DeBolt.
But, O’Connor brought out that even though Rameriz’s number was in DeBolt’s records, so were others, including Longoria and Longoria’s former girlfriend Eva Brown.
FBI Agent Robert Conde and Great Bend Police Lt. David Bailey were questioned by defense attorney Jeff Wicks about possible conflicts in the description of the vehicle DeBolt is said to have left her house in made by David and Tiffany Niley. The two were at a gathering down the street from the DeBolt residence the night she disappeared. They were the ones who said DeBolt got into a dark-colored SUV after it made several U-turns in the street in front of the house.
Marissa Kennedy, a friend of DeBolt’s, said she was the person DeBolt was talking to on the phone when the late teen got into that SUV. “She wanted to meet me and go to a party at Cedar and Barton (streets).”
Kennedy said DeBolt told her Ivan Ramirez was going to pick her up and they would meet Kennedy at a conveniene store in a few minutes. This was about 11 p.m., Aug. 21, 2010.
Before the conversation ended, Kennedy said she heard a car door shut.
But, when DeBolt never arrived to get her, Kennedy began calling and texting DeBolt. DeBolt never responded.
After testimony ended, there were no rebuttal witnesses. After hearing closing arguments and jury instructions from Barton County District Judge Hannalore Kitts, jurors will begin their deliberations.