Teen makes court appearance for Santa Cruz girl's death

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A teenage boy accused of raping and killing his 8-year-old neighbor appeared in court Thursday as flags flew at half-staff around Santa Cruz in honor of Madyson "Maddy" Middleton. (KGO-TV)

A teenage boy accused of raping and killing his 8-year-old neighbor appeared in court briefly Thursday as flags around Santa Cruz flew at half-staff in honor of the girl.

Adrian Jerry Gonzalez, his hands shackled in front of him, did not enter a plea. The 15-year-old's arraignment was postponed until September, most likely to give the defense more time to build a case, said Santa Cruz District Attorney spokesman Paul Mangasarian.

Gonzalez is being tried as an adult and lived in the same apartment complex as the victim Maddy.

Gonzalez waived his right to a speedy trial in Superior Court. "We are in a position to go forward at a moment's notice on this case and we're confident in the jurors of Santa Cruz being able to fairly hear this," Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell said.

Gonzalez has been charged with murdering his neighbor Maddy. Special allegations include rape, kidnapping and committing lewd acts with a child younger than the age of 14. "Our job is to review the evidence, conduct our own investigation and make sure that the minor, like every citizen accused, receives a fair trial," Public Defender Larry Biggam said.

A former friend of Gonzalez reacted outside the courthouse. "There's not much empathy you can have for him, but I can feel empathy for the person I knew," Katie Carole said.

Carol says that Gonzalez threatened to commit suicide a few years ago, but she never took those threats seriously. "I would never think he would do something like this, like he never seemed like the type of person to hurt anyone else," she said.

The Santa Cruz School District is working with county mental health officials to provide counseling services to students and staff as well as the rest of the community. "We want to be able to keep our children close and safe and protected and it's terrible to feel like we weren't able to do that," Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Kris Munro said.

Gonzalez is due back in Superior Court September 21 in Santa Cruz.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Click here for full coverage on the disappearance and death of Maddy Middleton.

Related Topics:
Maddy Middletonmissing personmissing childrenchildrensearchFBIvolunteerismteenteenagerarrestmurdersexual assaultkidnappingjuvenile crimechild abductionchild killeddeath penaltySanta Cruz
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