The 15-year-old boy who stands accused in the shockingly brutal rape and murder of an 8-year-old neighbor in Santa Cruz appeared in court today for his arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty to all charges. As KRON 4 reports, Adrian Gonzalez stands accused of felony murder with the enhancement of lying in wait, kidnapping to commit another crime, sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child, and forcible rape on a child under 14 years old.
The July 27 discovery of Madyson "Maddy" Middleton's body in a recycling bin in the complex where she lived with her mother shocked the town of Santa Cruz and the country at large, and Gonzales' trial will no doubt be heavily covered in the media in months to come.
Middleton's father, Michel Middleton, held a rally outside the courthouse in Santa Cruz today in order to say "Hate won't bring Maddy back," and to call for the focus to remain on the memory of his daughter.
Little is known about Gonzalez, his mental state, or what might have motivated the killing. He was self-described as an avid "yoyoer," and several of his classmates even described him as "sweet." Experts who spoke to the Mercury-News back in July after reviewing some of Gonzalez's Instagram posts didn't seem to agree, however it seems he was likely depressed, possibly suicidal, and according to one psychologist who specializes in teens he was not sociopathic because a sociopath wouldn't display his weakness as plainly as Gonzalez did on social media.
As Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeff Rosell said at the time, "People do things for lots of reasons. Sometimes we understand them. Sometimes we don't."
Gonzalez is being tried as an adult, despite his age, and the DA's office will seek a life sentence. A trial date has not yet been set.