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In their own words: Maddy Middleton’s family, community members sound off on Adrian Gonzalez’s sentence

Inside court and out, people had strong reactions to Gonzalez’s sentence. Here’s a look at what they said.

“Remembering ‘Madyson,’” read one sign, emblazoned with a picture of little Maddy Middleton followed by the words “Sweet Angel.”

“MARK STONE, FIX THIS!!” a few other signs read.

Others in the crowd of more than two dozen wore shirts with Maddy’s face.

That was the scene outside the Santa Cruz County courthouse early Tuesday afternoon. Inside, Maddy’s family was attending the sentencing hearing for Adrian Gonzalez, who killed 8-year-old Maddy in 2015.

The hearing’s outcome — Gonzalez received only 3.5 more years in juvenile detention — was virtually assured. That’s because of a California law that prevents minors under the age of 16 from being charged as adults for violent crimes; Gonzalez was 15 when he admits to killing Maddy. (Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, voted for the legislation, hence his appearance on the signs outside the courthouse.)

Both inside court and out, people had strong reactions to Gonzalez’s sentence. A summary:

Laura Jordan, Madyson’s mother

Maddy Middleton's mother, Laura Jordan, holds back tears during a press conference
Maddy Middleton’s mother, Laura Jordan, holds back tears during a press conference after Adrian Gonzalez was sentenced.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

“It was a joy to be around (Maddy). She was ours and is irreplaceable. Now the plans and dreams of our lifetimes are gone. All ended in a few minutes. Thrown into a garbage bag, into a Dumpster, before we even had made the dreaded 911 call — missing child,” Jordan told Judge John Salazar.

“AJ, I have been hollowed out by your cruel, brutal, unconscionable act,” Jordan said through tears. “Not once did you show any remorse for your maniacal actions.”

Mike Middleton, Madyson’s father

Maddy Middleton's father, Mike, hugs a friend outside the Santa Cruz County Superior Court
Maddy Middleton’s father, Mike, hugs a friend outside the Santa Cruz County Superior Court after Adrian Gonzalez was sentenced for killing the little girl in 2015.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Outside the courthouse after sentencing, Mike Middleton said Gonzalez did not show enough remorse during the hearing.

“It did not sound sincere. It sounded staged, coached and I can imagine why,” he said, later adding, “I hope that he never has the opportunity to do anything like this again … that’s what needs to happen.”

Lisa Jordan, Madyson’s grandmother

Lisa Jordan, Maddy Middleton's "Gammy" outside the courthouse
Lisa Jordan, Maddy Middleton’s “Gammy” outside the courthouse Tuesday following the sentencing of her granddaughter’s killer, Adrian Gonzalez.
(Tulsi Kamath / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Maddy’s “gammy” scoffed when asked what she thought about the maximum sentence allowed being given to Gonzalez — which will see him released in October 2024 when he turns 25.

“It’s a joke,” Lisa Jordan said. “He’ll be in jail for a while, and then they’ll let him go. He gets to walk. And when he does it again, maybe then they’ll take it seriously.”

Stephanie Simmont and her daughter, Bella (no relation to Madyson)

Community members listen to a live audio feed from inside the courtroom
Stephanie Simmont and her daughter, Bella, listen to a live audio feed from inside the courtroom as a judge delivers a sentence to Adrian Gonzalez.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Stephanie Simmont, 41, held up a sign that read, “SHAME! SB 1391,” referring to the law that prevented Gonzalez from being prosecuted as an adult. Her 17-year-old daughter Bella raised a sign that read “Justice for Maddy!”

“I just feel like this is a huge injustice. We’re supposed to be passing laws that take care of and protect the people and I feel like this does the exact opposite. This guy is a monster and when he gets out, he will do this again,” the older Simmont said.

Bella said she felt “really passionate(ly)” about coming to the courthouse, despite having no connection with Madyson or her family.

“I’m here because I think it’s really wrong that Maddy got her life taken away at 8 years old, and he now has the chance to go about his life,” she said.

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