UPDATE: MONDAY 8:47 AM Adrian Gonzales, suspect in the murder of Maddy Middleton pleads not guilty in court on Monday.

SANTA CRUZ (KRON) — The teen accused in the murder of 8-year-old Maddy Middleton is due back in court next week.

On Thursday, Maddy’s father is calling on the community to join him in a rally outside the courthouse. In his first public comments since Maddy’s death, Michel Middleton spoke exclusively with KRON4’s Rob Fladeboe.

“It’s been hard, I lost my little angel,” Middleton said.

Six weeks after his daughter Maddy was murdered, her father Michel is still coming to terms with his loss.

Middleton is worried next Monday might be another bad day, when Maddy’s alleged killer, Adrian Gonzales, is due back in court. That’s why he is asking the community to help him keep the focus on Maddy, and not on the man police said murdered her.

Middleton is not planning on attending the hearing, where Gonzales is expected to enter a plea to charges of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. Hate, he said, won’t bring Maddy back, but he wants justice for her just the same.

Middleton applauded the well-attended memorial for his daughter last month, but feels too much attention is now focused on Gonzales, when it ought to be on Maddy and her memory.

And so, he is asking people to join him on the court house steps Monday.