Huckaby indicted in kidnap, rape, murder of Cantu

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
When Melissa Huckaby returned to San Joaquin County Superior Court, Monday afternoon, she had tears in her eyes and cuts on her face and arms. They appear to be fresh, but did not stop the court from filing a five count, grand jury indictment against her for kidnapping, raping, and killing eight-year-old Sandra Cantu. There were also new charges and of drugging two other people, including a child. People did notice the scratches on her arm. It could have been an incident with another inmate, but we do not know the details.

Huckaby did not enter a plea to the new charges. But she had previously pleaded not guilty in the Cantu Murder last March.

In March, police found the second grader dead in a suitcase, near the mobile home park in Tracy where she lived.

Monday's indictments make a public preliminary hearing unnecessary and increase the possibility of a local trial.

ABC7 Legal Analyst Dean Johnson said the sooner it begins, the greater advantage to the prosecution. "The prosecution is ready to go to trial. They have had a dry run in front of a grand jury. They know how their witnesses will perform. They know they will have young witnesses whose memories may be fading, so the prosecution wants to push this to jury trial."

Monday's indictment includes special circumstances for murder, kidnapping, and rape of a child. The District Attorney's Office has not, yet said, whether it will ask for the death penalty, but did say it has asked Sanda Cantu's family what they think about it.

The defense said nothing about asking for a change of venue or a possible insanity plea.

Melissa Huckaby will appear again on September 10th. On that day, the judge is likely to set a trial date.

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