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Friday, July 03, 2009

Grand jury may get Sandra Cantu murder case

Huckaby trial decision could be decided in secret

By Scott Smith
Record Staff Writer
July 03, 2009

Stockton, California - A secret grand jury is expected to convene this month to decide if Tracy's Melissa Huckaby should stand trial in open court on charges she kidnapped, raped and murdered 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, sources said. (!)

The grand jury is scheduled to meet for two weeks beginning July 20.
A judge's gag order prevents...talking about the case...The Record confirmed through multiple sources that prosecutors have sent out subpoenas for witnesses to appear in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

The grand jury proceeding would take the place of Huckaby's preliminary hearing set for Sept. 24. It also threatens to keep from the public key facts of the case - such as Huckaby's alleged motive and how Sandra was killed - until the jury trial.

There are significant differences between preliminary and grand jury hearings...

Huckaby, 28, is charged with kidnapping, rape with a foreign object, lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, and murder. The charges stem from Sandra's March 27 death...Huckaby, who faces a potential death sentence, is also charged with drugging a 7-year-old girl and a 37-year-old Hayward man, Daniel Plowman...

The secrecy of a grand jury could help attorneys keep the trial in San Joaquin County rather than force a change of venue, said attorney John Schick, a law professor at the Humphreys College Laurence Drivon School of Law in Stockton.

Keeping details of the crime secret until trial may help attorneys find jurors who haven't been exposed to a lot of facts and used them to form an opinion before the trial begins, Schick said...
Read entire article here, plus several other posts about this case.

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