Sandra Cantu murder defendant pleads not guilty
STOCKTON, Calif. – The Sunday school teacher accused of kidnapping, raping and killing an eight-year-old Northern California girl has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
During a 10-minute hearing Friday, the lawyer for 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby entered the plea on her behalf.
Authorities say Huckaby killed Sandra Cantu, who was a playmate of Huckaby’s daughter. The girl’s body was later found stuffed in a suitcase in a nearby irrigation pond.
Friday’s plea comes after increased pressure by prosecutors to have Huckaby enter a plea. Her lawyer, Sam Behar, has repeatedly requested more time to review evidence in the case.
If convicted, Huckaby could face the death penalty.
The judge scheduled her preliminary hearing to start Sept. 24.