Death Penalty Sought for Sunday School Teacher Charged in Girl's Brutal Murder

Prosecutors said Thursday they will seek the death penalty for a Northern California woman charged with kidnapping, raping and killing an 8-year-old girl whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase.

Melissa Huckaby pleaded not guilty to the charges during a hearing Thursday in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

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She was indicted in July on charges of murdering her daughter's playmate, Sandra Cantu, and drugging two other people.

The 28-year-old former Sunday school teacher showed no emotion as Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa told the court his office intended to seek the death penalty.

Sandra's family attended the hearing on Thursday, when Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus denied Huckaby's request for a new attorney and scheduled another hearing Sept. 25.

Testa said he is concerned about waiting too long to go to trial because younger witnesses he may call to testify will have a harder time remembering specifics about what happened.