SANTA CRUZ (KRON) – The teen accused of brutally killing 8-year-old Maddy Middleton appeared in a Santa Cruz County court for the first time as an adult Tuesday.

Adrian Gonzalez, who turned 18 in October, was charged with the murder and sexual assault of Middleton, who disappeared from her Santa Cruz home on July 26, 2015.

Gonzalez has spent the last month at a Santa Cruz County jail after the county’s District Attorney charged him as an adult.

The trial was scheduled to begin in February but the passage of Proposition 57 now requires a judge to decide which court to try juveniles.

“Prop 57 was meant to get kids who commit serious crimes treatment and rehabilitation rather than mere punishment,” defense attorney Larry Biggam told KION.

Biggam plans to appeal the judge’s decision to send his client to adult court.

“It’s a serious crime, let’s be clear about that,” Biggam said. “But I think this kid is not so depraved and incorrigible that we just need to throw him in adult court.”

Whether or not Gonzalez can change is where the defense and prosecution begin to part ways.

The prosecuting attorney said he believes the judge made the right decision.

Maddy Middleton was last seen riding her scooter around the Tannery Arts Complex, not far from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Her body was found the next night, stuffed in a recycling bin in the parking garage downstairs from the suspect’s apartment.

Gonzalez, who was standing nearby when a detective discovered Middleton’s body, is accused of luring the girl into his apartment where he raped and killed her.

She died of asphyxia and stab wounds to the neck.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON: