Calif. woman pleads guilty in death of 8-year-old girl

13:59, May 11, 2010      

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In small California city Tracy, the local Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby pleaded guilty in court on Monday to kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu.

Huckaby, 29, will be sentenced June 12 to a prison term of life without the possibility of parole for the murder and kidnap of Cantu last year.

Huckaby was arrested less than a week after telling a reporter the suitcase that contained Sandra's body was hers, but it had been stolen out of her driveway the day Sandra disappeared.

Her guilty plea in San Joaquin County Superior Court to first-degree murder came in exchange for prosecutors taking the death penalty off the table and dropping all other charges against her, including rape and lewd or lascivious conduct with a child.

"Death is off the table," Prosecutor Thomas Testa said during Monday's hearing.

Cantu was found missing from her Tracy mobile home park on March 28, 2009 and then her body was recovered from a sealed suitcase found in an irrigation canal April 7 after a 10-day search.



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