The murder trials of Gran and Navarra are still months away, but they seem much closer to reality after a court hearing Thursday.
Navarra and Gran walked out of a Madera County courtroom and back to jail, ending a brief reunion for the pair charged with murdering Krista Pike in January 2008.
In the five and a half years since, Pike's family has shown up for more than a dozen court hearings without a trial coming -- allowing Gran and Navarra to avoid prison so far.
"It's very emotional," said Russel Pike. "It's very difficult to contain. Days we leave here and things do not progress, there's a great deal of depression."
Prosecutors say text messages between Gran and Navarra prove Gran killed Pike. They say Navarra wanted it done so she could rekindle a romance with an ex-boyfriend who was engaged to Pike. But misconduct by one prosecutor, and disputes over what the text messages really say, have delayed the trial.
Russel said, "It feels like a lifetime and it will be a lifetime of continuous growth, but yeah, it's been like a slow motion picture for the last few years."
Cameras are not allowed inside the court proceedings, but on Thursday, the Pike family felt progress.
The Stanislaus County judge handling the case expressed her own frustration with the lengthy process and pushed attorneys to prepare for a trial early in 2014.
Her sense of urgency put a smile on many faces among the 50 or so who packed the courtroom. Many wore pictures of a victim whose loss is still weighing heavy on their hearts.
Russel Pike added, "Krista will always be remembered and we will always appreciate the time we had to share with her."
Russel says he's praying for closure. But even when the trials are done, he won't completely put his loss in the rear view mirror. He and other family members plan to do outreach to others suffering through tragic losses like theirs.
On Thursday, the Pikes started to feel their suffering may finally be coming to an end.