SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The hearing to determine whether to try a teen accused of murder as an adult is entering its fifth week.
Adrian Gonzlez, 17, was arrested in 2015 in the murder and sexual assault of Maddy Middleton, an 8-year-old Santa Cruz girl.
Autism is a factor in determining whether Gonzlez is a product of circumstances out of his control, and with sufficient help, he can be rehabilitated in a few years.
On Tuesday, prosecution witness Bryna Siegel took the stand. She was not allowed to examine Gonzalez, but using information from the defense expert, a Stanford doctor’s diagnostic report, Siegel said Gonzalez doesn’t appear to have Autism.
Siegel is the founder of the Autism Center of Northern California and has written five books on the disorder.
In court, she challenged the traits defense expert said were markers of Gonzalez’s Autism diagnosis, including his obsession with yo-yos, fixation on certain kinds of foods and lack of eye contacts.
Siegel said that in general, there is a tendency to over-pathologize patients. And those traits are typical of many teens.
For the past four weeks, Middleton’s family has been at every hearing. Middleton’s grandfather said they agree with prosecutors.
"In fact, Maddy looked up to him because he was an instructor in her art class, so he was operating from a position of authority," said Bruce Jordan, Middleton’s maternal grandfather.
"I want him to be tried as an adult, so I guess I'm on that side, but I thought the prosecutors were more credible than the defense witnesses," said Dan Middleton, Middleton’s paternal grandfather.
If tried as an adult, Gonzalez could receive a life sentence.
The judge will have the final say as early as next week.