GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — The mother and sister of a 14-year-old cheerleader whose charred remains were found at an asphalt plant in central Kansas are expected to make victim impact statements Tuesday at the sentencing for the man convicted of killing her, prosecutors said.
The state did not seek the death penalty against 38-year-old Adam Longoria, but Barton County District Judge Hannelore Kitts has little leeway in deciding his punishment because jurors convicted him of capital murder for the August 2010 death of Alicia DeBolt. In Kansas, a capital murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of at least life without parole — even when the death penalty is already off the table.
It is not known whether Longoria, who did not take the stand at his trial, will make a courtroom statement.
To find Longoria guilty of capital murder, jurors had to determine that he committed criminal sodomy, aggravated criminal sodomy or attempted rape during the killing. Jurors decided he committed all three, and also found him guilty of vehicle burglary and theft.
Alicia was last seen alive leaving her home in Great Bend for a party just before midnight on Aug. 21, 2010. Her family reported her missing the next day, setting off a search that ended three days later when her remains, with traces of duct tape on her ankles and face, were found at the Venture Corp. plant outside Great Bend where Longoria worked.
Prosecutors showed jurors hundreds of text messages between Alicia and the then-36-year-old Longoria, who began pursuing the girl after meeting her at a party in July 2010. Those messages — including some showing he picked up the girl the night she disappeared — were featured prominently in the state's case.
Other evidence included gasoline on his gym shoes and video surveillance showing him buying $1.32 of gas on the night she disappeared. Longoria's now ex-girlfriend testified that he smelled of gasoline when he came home and that her car — which he had borrowed that night — reeked of it. Several witnesses testified that Longoria asked them to lie about his whereabouts that night. Longoria's semen was also found mixed with Alicia's DNA in the vehicle.
Longoria was arrested after he fled Great Bend, driving an SUV he had stolen from the asphalt company, just hours after investigators searched his house.
The defense attorneys tried to cast doubt on the state's evidence, suggesting a tiny amount of DNA from an unknown male that was found in the girl's mouth indicated someone else may have killed her. They also told jurors that since Longoria had previously bragged about having sex with the girl, her DNA could have ended up in his car on another occasion.