Today’s hearing for Melissa Chantel Huckaby, 28, was intended to possibly decide on a trial date. While prosecutors said they want to move the case along quickly, as children whose memories might fade may be called as witnesses, Huckaby’s public defender, Sam Behar, convinced the court to wait.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus set hearings for Oct. 30 and Dec. 4 to determine a trial date, court records indicate.
The hearing included a 33-minute break, when Lofthus met with Behar and Huckaby.
At the previous hearing, on Sept. 10, District Attorney James Willett said his side plans to seek the death penalty for Huckaby.
According to the prosecution, Huckaby is said to have killed Sandra on March 27 at Clover Road Baptist Church, which was owned by Huckaby’s grandfather. She also taught Sunday school at the church.
She remains in custody and on suicide watch, as she has reportedly tried to hurt herself in jail. According to reports, she wrapped a blanket around her neck, refused to eat dinner and told a guard she “took pills.” Huckaby’s ex-husband once said she tried to end her life by swallowing razor blades the day Sandra was found.
A farmworker found the girl’s body in a black suitcase in a dairy lagoon north of Tracy on April 6, 10 days after she was reported missing, prompting a city-wide search. Huckaby reported a missing suitcase the same day Sandra’s family said they couldn’t find the girl.
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