SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KTVU and wires) – Dressed in jailhouse khakis and a green shirt, a 15-year-old accused of kidnapping, raping and murdering his 8-year-old neighbor showed little emotion during in his first court appearance Thursday.
Police say Adrian Jerry Gonzalez lured Madyson Middleton into his family's apartment from a courtyard where she had been riding her scooter over the weekend. Once inside, he tied her up, sexually assaulted and killed her, according a charging document.
Gonzalez wearing handcuffs gave two soft “yes” answers to the judge before his arraignment was continued to Sept. 21st.
Outside the courtroom, prosecutors said they would be seeking a life sentence with the possibility of parole at trial.
Gonzalez remains in custody at the Santa Cruz County juvenile detention center, where he has been held since the girl's body was found in a recycling bin Monday evening.
Meanwhile, a memorial outside Madyson’s home continued to grow Thursday.
She had a little, black dog named "Lucy" and tearful children at the Tannery placed pictures and notes on the growing memorial overflowing with bouquets, stuffed animals, balloons and candles.
"It was nice how you were so perky," wrote one.
"We all miss you," wrote another, next to a picture of the slain girl with wings and a halo.
A local resident, Kirby Scudder, described Madyson as a typical 8-year-old, alternately shy and gregarious.
"She was very smart, and I thought she was going to be an engineer," he said. "She had a great sense of humor."
Neighbors at the Tannery Arts Center where both the suspect and Madyson lived said they were stunned by the death. The center is a public-private nonprofit that includes 100 affordable loft apartments for artists and their families. About 250 people live in the complex, including about 50 children.
"It's a great community because it's a bit unusual," Geoffrey Nelson, a photographer and Tannery resident, said. "You share the joys of people, their children growing up. Their art shows, their recitals. But you also share the sorrows."
Nelson said he's known Gonzalez for several years and described him as shy, though they often chatted. "He was a yo-yo-expert, so he was oftentimes showing you tricks," Nelson said.
Residents have been heartbroken to learn that he is suspected in the death, he said.
"It wasn't somebody from the outside," Nelson said. "It was somebody we all knew. It was someone we all knew and liked."