Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Melissa Huckaby, the former Sunday school teacher accused of murdering her 8-year-old neighbor, the San Joaquin Country district attorney's office announced Thursday.
Huckaby – who was charged with kidnapping and murder in April – allegedly killed Sandra Cantu, one of her daughter's friends, on March 27 in Tracy, Calif., stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it in a lagoon.
Huckaby, 28, pleaded not guilty
June 12 but was indicted
by a grand jury on charges she kidnapped, rapped and murdered Cantu. A trial date has not been set.
The 8-year-old was last seen alive
March 27 at the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park. According to some media reports, Huckaby told investigators that the death was an accident.
The former Sunday school teacher has been held without bail at the San Joaquin County Jail where, according to court records
, she has been acting strangely and apparently tried to harm herself.
Two days before a court hearing on Aug. 17, Huckaby hid behind a mattress in her cell with a blanket tied around her neck, jail records show. Five days earlier, she told a deputy she was "took pills" and was feeling dizzy. A nurse and psychiatric staff were called to the scene.
Huckaby's odd behavior reportedly began after Cantu's disappearance. According to several media reports, she was hospitalized after attempting to commit suicide by swallowing razor blades.
Her ex-husband said in April
he never saw any indication she could hurt herself, although she took too medication for depression and "had issues with her self-persona, who she saw herself as."