Grand jury transcripts released in Huckaby case

June 19, 2010 12:16:58 AM PDT
Melissa Huckaby is a mother who taught Sunday school and she seemed unlikely to be a killer, but a just-released grand jury transcript paints a very different picture.

Huckaby is doing life for kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. The 1,900 page transcript, released on Friday, portrays her as a calculating woman who thought she could talk her way out of anything.

The grand jury transcripts show for the first time just how much evidence police had against Huckaby. Everyone is also getting a glimpse into her suspicious behavior after she kidnapped and killed Sandra.

She left quite a trail of evidence for investigators to find and even seemed to try to draw attention to herself. According to the transcripts, Huckaby tearfully ran up to investigators at a vigil for the missing girl and said she found a note saying Cantu's body was in a suitcase and give the address of where it could be found. Police later discovered Huckaby wrote the note.

She also told police someone had stolen her black suitcase. Police also discovered a post-it note in her car with the address of the irrigation pond where Cantu's body was later found.

"She more or less put herself in the hands of the FBI as a suspect. She really drew red concentric circles on her forehead with her behavior," says former FBI profiler Candice DeLong.

DeLong says even though it may look like Huckaby wanted to get caught, DeLong sees her behavior differently.

"I don't happen to believe people want to get caught. What I do believe, is oftentimes, they don't think things through. They think they're smarter than the police," says DeLong.

ABC7 asked DeLong about Huckaby's behavior once Sandra's body was found. According to the documents, Huckaby texted her grandmother, first writing, "I see they say it's a crime scene" and then "I hope she wasn't sexually assaulted."

This was well before police had said anything about Sandra being sexually abused. DeLong calls this a consciousness of guilt.

"It's not unusual for criminals of a certain type of personality to really need to talk about what they did, to play with others, to hint," says DeLong.

The documents are full of explicit details about how Sandra was sexually abused, beaten and killed. The medical examiner is quoted as saying she suffered a constellation of injuries. The specifics surrounding her murder are what her family had hoped to keep sealed. On Friday, Sandra's uncle, Joe Chavez, lashed out at the media outlets that argued for access to the documents.

"Which, in my opinion, is nothing less than trying to look up the skirt of a dead 8-year-old little girl," says Chavez.

Two days after Cantu disappeared, Huckaby invited Sandra's big sister over for a sleepover with her daughter. Miranda Chavez did spend the night and told the grand jury Huckaby only mentioned Sandra's disappearance once asking Miranda if they had found any evidence.

Prosecutors say Huckaby checked herself into a hospital eight days after the murder for swallowing a razor blade.

According to the grand jury transcripts, prosecutor Thomas Testa said Huckaby entered the hospital on April 4, 2009 -- two days before the discovery of Sandra Cantu's body.

The documents show that Huckaby told investigators she accidentally swallowed the blade while sleepwalking. But Testa told jurors that the action showed the "consciousness of guilt."

Huckaby was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Authorities say they have no motive for the killing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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