April 14, 2009 in Nation/World

Rape may be alleged in California girl’s slaying

Marcus Wohlsen Associated Press
 

SAN FRANCISCO – Prosecutors said Monday they may include rape and molestation allegations in their murder charge against the woman suspected of killing an 8-year-old Northern California girl and putting her body in a suitcase.

Melissa Huckaby, a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher, was arrested Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sandra Cantu.

Formal charges have not yet been filed, but San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himmelblau said 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 would make Huckaby eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole, Himmelblau said. The district attorney’s office has not determined whether it will seek the death penalty, he said.

Police have not said how, where or why Sandra was killed, and Himmelblau wouldn’t provide details on any evidence leading prosecutors to consider the sexual assault allegations.

Huckaby is scheduled to be arraigned today in Stockton.

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