Court Postpones Plea of Sunday School Teacher Suspected in Girl's Death

By Alexandra Zavis
Los Angeles Times
April 14, 2009

The arraignment for a Sunday school teacher suspected of killing an 8-year-old Northern California girl was continued today until later this month.

Melissa Huckaby, 28, was charged today with murder but did not enter a plea. The charge also carried the special circumstances of kidnapping, rape with a foreign object and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Richard Vlavianos granted a request from Huckaby's attorney to continue the arraignment until April 24, when she will be expected to make a plea.

The attorney, who is from the public defender's office, also requested that the families of Huckaby and the 8-year-old victim be ordered not to speak with the media. There were no objections from prosecutors and Vlavianos said the court would later make a ruling on that request.

Investigators found Sandra Cantu's remains in a suitcase that was pulled from an irrigation pond. She disappeared March 27, and Huckaby, who lives in the same mobile home park as Cantu, was arrested Friday in connection with her slaying.

If convicted of the murder charge and any of the special circumstances, Huckaby could face life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.


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