SANTA CRUZ -- (KRON) -- The man accused in the Jul. 2015 rape and murder of 8-year old Madyson "Maddy" Middleton has pleaded not guilty to the crimes in Santa Cruz.
The case is bogged down by delays over whether Gonzalez is to be as an adult or a juvenile in court.
Eighteen-year-old Adrian "A.J." Gonzalez entered a plea of not guilty Monday to charges of murder with a special allegation of lying in wait, kidnapping, forcible rape, and lewd acts with a child. The child was 8-year-old Madyson "Maddy" Middleton, whose body was found in a dumpster outside her home in Santa Cruz in Jul. 2015.
Gonzalez was 15 when the crimes occurred, but prosecutors want him tried as an adult. Recently approved Proposition 57, however, says a judge, not district attorneys, should make that call.
Teen to be tried as adult in murder of 8-year-old Maddy MiddletonA judge has since sided with prosecutors but the defense has appealed that ruling.
"This kid never [had] a therapist or a counselor in his entire life until after these horrific crimes," Public Defender Larry Biggam said. "In my mind, the village failed and missed many opportunities, and he has responded well at juvenile hall."
District Attorney Jeff Rosell has a different opinion.
"The callousness of this crime, the premeditation, the sexual assault of an 8-year-old, the callousness of all that and the way he disposed of her body are what makes this an appropriate case to be tried as an adult," Rosell said.