Prosecutors announced today that, in addition to murder, they may charge the Sunday school teacher and mother suspected of killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu with raping and molesting the little girl.
Formal charges have not yet been filed against 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby, but San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himmelblau told the AP a murder charge against Huckaby could include the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and murder in the course of a kidnapping. A conviction on any of the special circumstances makes Huckaby eligible for the death penalty. The DA has not yet said whether or not they are considering pursuing execution in this case.
Huckaby's 5-year-old daughter Madison was one of Sandra's best friends. She lived with her grandparents in the trailer park -- just five doors down from Sandra. Just days before her arrest, Huckaby was released from the hospital. Relatives said she suffers from stomach ulcers. One report indicated that police believe Sandra was killed at the church where Huckaby's grandfather serves as a pastor. Police refused to confirm this.
The body of little Sandra, who was reported missing on March 27, was found on April 6 stuffed in a suitcase that had been thrown into an irrigation canal just a few miles from her home.
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- Body of Missing Girl Found in Suitcase
- Dad Blogger Reacts to Sandra Cantu's Death