TRACY, Calif. – The lawyer for a Northern California Sunday school teacher charged with murdering and raping an 8-year-old girl said this week he wants the child's body exhumed.
Public defender Sam Behar, the lawyer for 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby, asked a judge to have the remains of little Sandra Cantu exhumed to conduct a second autopsy.
Behar argued Thursday that he wants his own examination of the body done since the rape allegation against Huckaby stems from the finding that the victim had suffered "genital trauma."
Behar urged the court to act quickly because the body was deteriorating, saying a second autopsy conducted by an independent pathologist would take no more than a week.
"I believe and allege such an examination is extremely crucial and material to Ms. Huckaby's defense," Behar wrote in a court filing.
San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge William Murray Jr. refused to rule on the request Thursday, saying that decision rests with another judge assigned to Huckaby's case.
The request came on the same day thousands attended a public memorial for Sandra at a Tracy high school and a day after the girl's family laid her to rest in a mausoleum.
Meanwhile, Huckaby's ex-husband said Friday he was in "shock and complete disbelief" when his former wife was arrested for such a heinous crime.
John Huckaby told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he knew his ex-wife, Melissa Huckaby, as a carefree, nonviolent person, who he "could not see doing something like this."
The couple was married in 2003, separated a year later and divorced in 2005. John Huckaby said he hasn't talked to his former wife for more than three years.
Melissa Huckaby was charged Tuesday with murdering Sandra, whose body was found in a suitcase pulled from an irrigation pond 10 days after she vanished.
Prosecutors added to the charge the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14 and murder in the course of a kidnapping.
Authorities have not discussed a possible motive for the killing.
Huckaby has not entered a plea. Her next court appearance is April 24.
"My initial reaction was shock and complete disbelief," John Huckaby told the ABC program. "It's not something you want to think anyone possibly (is capable) of doing — let alone somebody that you knew and that's a mother of your child."
John Huckaby said their five-year-old daughter, Madison, who was a playmate of Sandra's, is in a "safe place" and doesn't know anything about the case.
Melissa Huckaby was awarded sole custody of Madison after the couple's divorce. In divorce papers, Melissa Huckaby accuses John Huckaby of child abduction, domestic violence and alcohol abuse. John Huckaby denies the allegations.
John Huckaby said his ex-wife suffered from depression but was not a violent person.
He also said he hopes the allegations aren't true.
"Mainly for my daughter," he said. "I do not want my daughter growing up with that type of legacy to look forward to."