Santa Cruz

Appeal Delays Teen's Trial in Murder of 8-Year-Old Santa Cruz Girl

The murder trial of a teen accused of raping and killing his 8-year-old neighbor in Santa Cruz in July 2015 has been delayed once again as the defense appeals a judge’s ruling that the suspect be tried as an adult.

It's been nearly three years since 8-year-old Maddy Middleton’s body was found in a dumpster at the Santa Cruz apartment complex where she lived. Prosecutors say Adrian Gonzalez, 15 at the time, raped and murdered her before dumping her body.

Maddy Middleton and her accused killer Adrian Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, appearing in the court Monday wearing the colors of an adult inmate, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Maddy's family says they’ve been waiting too long for justice, and their frustration only grew after Monday's appeal.

"There’s a videotaped, recorded confession, and nothing has happened positive in two and a half years, so, that’s our legal system," said Bruce Jordan, Maddy's grandfather.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney had already made the decision of prosecuting him as an adult, but then Proposition 57 passed, and the DA needed a judge's ruling. After nine weeks, a judge agreed and moved Gonzalez back to adult court.

"We’re talking about one of the most heinous crimes this county has ever seen," deputy DA Jeff Rosell said. "Luring, raping, kidnapping, and murdering a child and then dumping her body with complete disregard for anything."

With Monday's appeal, it might be another three months before an appellate court rules on trying Gonzalez as an adult.

"The grounds for the appeal are that (the judge) misapplied the law and focused more on the crime and less on the child or the kid," Public Defender Larry Biggam said. "And Prop. 57 really wants to give the kid who commits crimes more treatment and rehabilitation rather than prison punishment."

Gonzalez is due back in court on July 31 to set a preliminary hearing.

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