Prosecutor wants plea in Huckaby case


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Melissa Huckaby, 28, is due back in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Friday to face charges of murder, rape and kidnapping in the death of Sandra Cantu. A 10-day search for the missing Tracy girl ended in early April when her body was found stuffed in a black suitcase in an irrigation pond a few miles from her home.

Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa filed a request Tuesday asking Judge Linda Lofthus to enter a plea for Huckaby if she refuses to enter a plea herself.

Huckaby's scheduled hearing Friday would be her fourth appearance in court since her arrest April 10. Her attorney, public defender Sam Behar, has repeatedly asked for more time to review hundreds of pages of evidence in the case before Huckaby enters a plea.

Testa also requested in the filing that a preliminary hearing date be set to determine whether investigators have enough evidence for Huckaby to stand trial.

The filing asks the court to make the hearing a priority because the charges involve allegations of crimes against minors.

Just before a hearing last month, prosecutors filed additional charges alleging that Huckaby earlier this year drugged a 7-year-old girl and a 37-year-old man who police believe she had been dating. The girl lives in the same mobile park where Huckaby lived just down the street from Sandra and her family.

A gag order has prohibited attorneys, investigators and potential witnesses from commenting on the case.

If convicted of the murder charge, Huckaby could face the death penalty.

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