Huckaby indicted in Cantu murder

August 17, 2009 8:13:28 PM PDT
The woman accused of killing a little girl from Tracy, returned to superior court Monday.

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When Melissa Huckaby returned to San Joaquin County Superior Court, she had tears in her eyes -- and cuts on her face and arms.

The wounds appeared to be fresh, but did not stop the court from filing a five-count grand jury indictment against her for kidnapping, raping, and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, with new charges and of drugging two other people, including a child.

"People did note that there seemed to be scars or scratches on Ms. Huckaby's forehead and arms, there could have been an incident with another inmate or something else, but right now we don't know the details," ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said.

Huckaby did not enter a plea to the new charges, but previously pleaded not guilty in the Cantu murder last March.

Back then, 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, preleminary hearing unneccessary and increase the possibility of a local trial.

Johnson says the sooner it begins, the greater advantage to the prosecution.

"The prosecution is ready to go to trial; they've had a dry run on their evidence before the grand jury, they know how their witnesses are going to perform, and they have witnesses, particularly young witnesses, whose memories may be fading, so the prosecution wants to push this to jury trial," Johnson said.

The 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 Cantu's family what they thought about it.

"We'll know within a month or two what his decision is on this case," Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa said.

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

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

LINK: Read the indictments against Huckaby

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