Sunday School Teacher Pleads Guilty to Killing 8-Year-Old
May 10, 2010 by Post Team
Sunday School Teacher Pleads Guilty to Killing 8-Year-Old:STOCKTON, Calif. – Former Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby pleaded guilty Monday to first-degree murder of eight year old daughter of a neighbor, authorities said.
Huckaby, 29, pleaded guilty in San Joaquin County Superior Court to one count of first degree murder with special circumstances of kidnapping.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, all others – including two of rape and lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14 years – were removed, according to court spokeswoman Sharon Morris.
Plea surprise came during what was scheduled for a pretrial hearing routine Monday morning. The initial charges in the indictment the grand jury last year would have made him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. His trial was set to begin in October.
Huckaby said Morris now faces a sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment without possibility of parole when sentenced June 14.
Authorities said Sandra Cantu died Huckaby, a playmate of his daughter, in March 2009. A search of the girl ended after 10 days when his body was found stuffed in a black bag collected from a watering pond a few miles from the mobile home park where Tracy for the child and the accused lived.
Sandra was last seen on a surveillance camera without going near his home just five doors down from Huckaby.
Huckaby had also been previously accused of drugging a girl 7 years old and a 37-year-old, whom police believe she had been dating. The charges also were dropped in the agreement with prosecutors.
During Monday’s hearing, Judge Linda Lofthus maintained the gag order he had imposed in the case last year, according to police spokeswoman Tracy Tony Sheneman.
Lawyers in the case did not return calls seeking comment. Angie Chavez, Aunt Sandra, and the Cantu family spokesman, declined to comment Monday, citing the gag order.
As in the time of arrest, the police on Monday morning stood guard at the entrance of the mobile home park where he lived Huckaby Cantu y. A swarm of reporters gathered in a parking lot opposite the entrance, but were not released in the neighborhood.
Susan Alley, 50, said she has lived in the fleet of nearly four years. She said she was happy to hear about Huckaby plea and said that residents have only recently begun to feel comfortable around each other again.
“Now is better here. No one trusted the other,” said Alley.
Huckaby calmly answered the judge’s questions about whether she was in a sound state of mind and realized it was a guilty plea, the court said artist Vicki Behringer.
“She was very relaxed and enjoyable. He looked better than I had seen in a long time,” said Behringer, who has attended every court hearing in the case.
Prosecutors wanted the judge to ask more questions to ensure the defense can not turn back after claiming Huckaby was not of sound mind, but the judge was satisfied with the responses of Huckaby, Behringer said.
The details of the evidence against Huckaby remain limited, as they have done since he was arrested more than a year ago. Criminologists said at the time of his arrest that the allegations that a mother alone raped and murdered a child is not his own was almost unprecedented in recent U.S. history.
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