Evidence proves Adam Longoria is guilty of stalking, sexually assaulting and, ultimately, killing 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt, then fleeing Great Bend in a stolen vehicle, prosecuting attorney Kevin O’Connor of the Kansas Attorney General’s Office told jurors Friday morning during his closing arguments in Longoria’s capital murder trial.
Sure, 36-year-old Longoria was guilty of inappropriate lapses in judgment by pursuing DeBolt and, when feeling put upon, stealing a truck from his employer and going on the lam, but defense attorney Jeff Wicks of the Death Penalty Defense Unit said that was all he was guilty of doing.
These were the cases made during a morning when both sides took their turns for one last attempt to sway the five woman, nine-man jury in Barton County District Court. By lunch time, and after six days of testimony, Longoria’s fate rested in the hands of his peers.
Longoria is on trial for the death of 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. He is charged with capital murder since the case involves his alleged sexual assault of DeBolt. He is also charged with criminal sodomy (since DeBolt was 14), aggravated criminal sodomy (since she may have been restrained) and rape (since the acts may have not been consensual).
He also faces counts of burglary and theft in connection with breaking into a Venture Corporation truck and stealing it.
The day opened with District Judge Hannelore Kitts reading the instructions to the jury. She advised them of the laws that apply to the case and told them to consider a verdict without favoritism, and remember the state has the burden of proof.
“Good morning beautiful.”
That initial text message was sent by Longoria to DeBolt on the July morning after the two first met at a birthday party for Longoria’s girlfriend Eva Brown. It set off a tragic chain of events.
“It lead to her burned, charred body lying in the mud and dirt at the Venture asphalt plant,” an animated O’Connor told the jury.
“This is a case about evidence,” he said. From hundreds of text messages to DNA found in his semen and DeBolt’s saliva on the floor of his car to late-night convenience store surveillance video footage to clothing being washed at in the middle of then night and then shredded, it is clear Longoria not only intended to have his way with DeBolt, but he wound up killing her.
“The evidence can’t be viewed in a vacuum, one piece here and one piece there,” he said. “It has to be viewed as a whole. All the evidence comes together.”
He told the jurors not to check their common sense at the door. The prosecution, he said, proved intent and premeditation.
Longoria pursued DeBolt, lured her into his 2002 Ford Escape, had oral sex with her, killed her, bought a half gallon of gasoline at Loves, and burned the corpse, focusing the fire on the genital area.
“Say I was at Willy J’s.” This is what Longoria wanted his friends to say of his whereabouts on the night DeBolt died. “He wasn’t at Willy J’s. He was at the asphalt plant killing Alicia DeBolt and sodomizing her.”
O’Connor asked for a conviction on not only the capital murder and sexual assault charges, but also the lessor alternative charges of first-degree (which doesn’t include the sodomy but does include premeditation) and second-degree murder (which doesn’t include premeditation). The jury has the option of convicting or acquitting on each count separately.
Yes, there were some variations in the description given of the vehicle DeBolt got into the night she disappeared and there some discrepancies in the times given by witnesses. But, O’Connor said it was dark and people weren’t glued to their clocks.
DeBolt thought she was getting into a car to go to a party, “not the Venture asphalt plant to have oral sex with Adam Longoria. She was tricked.”
DeBolt was not a perfect little girl, he said. “Maybe she was trying to be a little older than she was.”
But, “it does matter she was 14. It does matter,” O’Connor said. “The 14-year-old girl is not to blame.”
However, Wicks said DeBolt also exchanged over 600 text messages with Ivan Ramirez. “This shows there was something going on between them.”
“You’re sexy without your clothes,” said one text from Ramirez to DeBolt. There were other such messages.
Wicks said this relationship was in decline and Ramirez (who is now in Mexico) was trying to break it off with DeBolt. But, she continued to pursue him.
“What am I to you, your sex buddy?” she asked in another message.
“This is a terrible case,” Wicks said. “You have every right to be angry.”
But, “you have to decide this case solely on the evidence. He talked about the description and time line variations, and the fact the oil can Longoria allegedly used to carry gas to burn DeBolt’s body was not where it was said to have been. He also mentioned the lack of gasoline on the clothes Longoria wore when he is said to have killed DeBolt and questioned the use of cell phone tower evidence.
There was unidentified male DNA found in the mouth of DeBolt’s body, and Wicks wondered out loud who that belong to. What about Ramirez? What about Giovanni Olivas, another friend who was never brought in as a witness?
“What the state has done is pick from here and here and hear and ignored everything in between,” Wicks said.
Wicks also said the problem was compounded by the Great Bend Police Department’s inaction in responding to DeBolt’s family when they reported her missing. “She (DeBolt) was trying to turn her life around.”
“This was a tragedy,” he said. “Don’t compound the tragedy in this case by convicting Adam Longoria of a crime he didn’t commit.”
“Look over here, folks,” O’Connor said, dancing around the courtroom in his rebuttal. “Let’s blame the guy in Mexico.” How about the unknown occupants of cars seen leaving the area? How about Olivas? “Maybe she was abducted by a UFO.”
At heart, DeBolt was a teenager. Sure, she texted Ramirez, but she also texted others about routine teenager stuff.
“Statements by counsel are not evidence,” O’Connor said about comments made by Wicks. “These facts are stubborn. They are cold, hard.”
Looking at the car’s identification and other evidence together, “this is not a coincidence,” he said.
“It’s his fault,” O’Connor said, pointing to Longoria seated at the defense’s table. “And the evidence establishes that,” despite Wick’s attempt to get them to look in another direction.
“They’re asking you to dump your common sense,” he said. “Find the defendant guilty because the evidence establishes that he is guilty.”