It barely took Tammy Conrad a second to look at the photo in the three-ring binder placed in front her to recognize the subject.
“That’s my baby girl,” she said, her face still beaming with parental joy as she identified her daughter’s picture. The snapshot was taken when that “baby girl” still had a life ahead of her.
Conrad is the mother of slain teenager Alicia DeBolt and was the prosecution’s first witness in the trial for Adam Joseph Longoria, the man accused of murdering DeBolt after attempting to sexually assault her the night of Aug. 21, 2010.
Opening arguments took place Thursday afternoon after a jury of five women and nine men was seated late in the morning in Barton County District Court. The trial is expected to last well into next week with Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts presiding.
DeBolt’s charred remains were found on Aug. 24, 2010, one day after she was to have started her freshman year at Great Bend High School.
Conrad said DeBolt was a typical teenager. She liked clothes. She had a midnight curfew and was “pretty good” about getting home on time. She had run away from home in the past, but said she had turned things around.
Before Conrad took the stand, prosecutor Andrew Bauch, assistant attorney general, addressed the jury. “‘Good morning beautiful,’ that was the first text sent to Alicia DeBolt by Adam Longoria,” he said.
He told how Eva Brown met Longoria over the Internet in 2009 and drove down to Texas to pick him up a year later.
“He had no car, so he used hers (a dark-colored Ford Escape). He had no cell phone, so he used hers.”
The two lived together at and presented themselves as husband and wife.
Bauch told of a birthday party on July 17, 2010, where DeBolt and Longoria met, and how the two begin exchanging text messages. Since he used Brown’s phone, she intercepted some of those messages and Longoria explained them away.
When Longoria got his own cell phone, the texting continued.
Bauch told of that fateful day in August. Conrad, DeBolt and DeBolt’s sister Dawn DeBolt went for a day-long shopping spree in Wichita to buy school clothes for the appearance-conscious DeBolt, returning after 10 p.m. This was Saturday and school started Monday.
Also on the evening of the 21st, Longoria and Brown had gone bowling and out to eat at the Rack. While at dinner, Longoria was seen texting, and cell phone records show he was contacting DeBolt, Bauch said. “Can pick up, party, have fun” was the message.
“Alicia DeBolt tells her mom she wants to go out and see some friends,” he said. “She walks out that door at 11 o’clock for the last time.”
Neighbors saw DeBolt get into a dark-colored SUV (identified as Brown’s Ford Escape) and leave.
Longoria was seen buying a $1.32 in gasoline at a Love’s convenience store midnight that night. Bauch said the defendant had friends lie for him to establish an alibi.
He later had his wife dispose of some of the clothing he wore the night DeBolt died.
Bauch described how DeBolt’s body was found at Venture Corporation’s Dundee asphalt plant. “A swarm of law enforcement officers descended on Great Bend.”
Evidence was collected, including DNA, cell phone records and soil samples. Statements were taken.
DeBolt’s body was burned beyond recognition, requiring DNA to make the identification. During the autopsy, a small amount of unknown male DNA was found in her mouth.
Mixed DNA was found on the floor board of that SUV. “It was the defendant’s semen mixed with the DNA of Alicia DeBolt,” Bauch said.
Because of the condition of the body, an exact cause of death couldn’t be determined. But, it was “homicidal violence,” Bauch said.
He then told of how Longoria’s house was searched, and how he allegedly stole a vehicle from the Venture plant and a company cell phone. Tracking calls on that phone lead to his arrest in Salina by the Kansas Highway Patrol.
However, “the state’s case is based on circumstantial evidence,” said defense attorney Tim Frieden with the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit. “The state’s case isn’t as strong as they want you to think it is.”
Some of the DNA found remains unidentified, he said. “Either there was another male involved, or there was a contamination of the testing procedure,” Frieden said.
There were varying descriptions of the vehicle DeBolt entered and there were others who texted her. Some witnesses thought they saw DeBolt at a party at Camp Aldridge. There are also witnesses that saw “multiple vehicles” leaving the asphalt plant that night.
On the stand
“She said she had a party she wanted to go to when we got home,” Conrad said of her daughter. This was during the trip to Wichita. Conrad could recall exactly what DeBolt wore as she walked out the door.
Conrad knew of Longoria, but not as Longoria. DeBolt and Conrad knew the 36-year-old Longoria as “Rocko” and understood him to be only 25 years old.
“She said he seemed nice, and she wanted to hangout with him,” Conrad said. The mother warned to be cautious since was new to town and older.
As for Aug. 21, when DeBolt failed to come home by her curfew, Conrad began texting her. She never responded and never came back.
When she didn’t show up on Sunday, Conrad called the police. “The officer sort of blew me off.”
Conrad didn’t want to file a missing persons report for fear that, because of DeBolt’s history, she might be in legal trouble. But, the mom felt something was wrong and that DeBolt hadn’t just run away from home.
Later Sunday, she broke down and filed the report. Meanwhile, family and friends were calling and texting everyone they could think of with information about DeBolt.
She met Longoria for the first time the following Monday when he came running up to her house upset and wanting to help find DeBolt.
“She was my best friend,” said Dawn DeBolt of her half sister. “We was my baby sister. We talked about everything.”
She told about how her sister came to her complaining about unwanted texts from some woman (who turned out to be Brown). “It was bugging Alicia,” she said.
So, the big sister fired a text back. “I let her have it. I wasn’t very nice.”
On the night she disappeared, the girl who normally took great care piecing together an outfit and putting on make up “just threw something together,” Dawn DeBolt said. “She was a little different.”
She, too, warned about Rocko.
After DeBolt disappeared, her sister started her own investigation. “We weren’t getting very much help from the police.”
At one point during this private probe, Dawn DeBolt found out where Longoria lived and confronted Brown. While there, she asked about Longoria eventually showed up as well.
After Dawn DeBolt, there was testimony from Venture employees describing the asphalt plant and its location, and what is done there.
Another witness also recalled driving by the plant and seeing what looked like a “mannequin” which was really DeBolt’s charred remains.
Brown is scheduled to be the first witness this morning when court reconvenes at 9 a.m.