(04-21) 14:37 PDT TRACY -- The attorney for murder suspect Melissa Huckaby is no longer seeking to exhume the body of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu from a Tracy mausoleum in order to conduct independent tests to determine whether she was raped, San Joaquin County's public defender said today.
The defense will withdraw its request, which Huckaby's attorney made to a judge Thursday just a day after Sandra was laid to rest, Public Defender Peter Fox said.
He said the deputy public defender handling the case, Sam Behar, learned this morning from the county's chief medical examiner, Bennett Omalu, that "the relevant samples were preserved" and had not been interred.
"It will not be necessary to disturb the child's remains," Fox said in an interview. "From a human point of view, certainly it's nice not to have to do that."
Huckaby, a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher who is the mother of one of Sandra's playmates in a Tracy mobile home park, was arrested April 10 and charged with her murder. Prosecutors alleged that the murder was accompanied by special circumstances, including rape, that would make Huckaby eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Sandra was last seen near her home March 27. Her body was found in a suitcase April 6 in a dairy farm's irrigation pond 2 miles from the mobile home park.
The defense was concerned that prosecutors were basing the rape allegation solely on the findings of the medical examiner's autopsy. Fox said his office has not been given the autopsy results or any other evidence in the case, including recordings or transcripts from a long interview Huckaby gave to police before her arrest.
In his motion to exhume Sandra's body, Behar wrote that a second autopsy, which would have been conducted by a forensic pathologist hired by the defense, was "extremely crucial and material to Ms. Huckaby's defense."
The defense team, Behar wrote, "should be allowed to examine Ms. Cantu's body to discern alternative explanation for the assigned coroner's observation of alleged genital trauma, so that Ms. Huckaby can defend herself against those allegations."
Now, Fox said, Behar has learned that tissue samples will be available for testing by the defense pathologist.
The county medical examiner has not released Sandra's cause of death or the results of toxicology tests.
Angie Chavez, Sandra's aunt, said today that the family did not wish to comment on the withdrawal of the defense motion.
I don't know about the rest of you, but this is great news. In reading a lot of the articles and the comments about those articles, I know a lot of people were up in arms over the possibility of the defense taking Sandra's body from her resting place at the Tracy Mausoleum. This must also ease the minds of her family to know that a 2nd autopsy doesn't have to be done.
There has to be so much more information about this case that the investigators and the prosecutors are holding close. We get bits of information from here and there and I have to wonder how much of it is truth and how much of it is speculation or just plain errors on the parts of the different reporters who are covering this case.
I've been watching TV off and on today and the latest uproar is over another incident that happened in January. Another child in the same mobile home park where Sandra's family and the Huckaby families live was reportly missing for a few hours. From what the reports are saying, Melissa Huckaby took that child to a park, either with or without the knowledge of the child's family (Depending on which report you read.). Sometime during the time Melissa had the child at a park (No clue what park or even if they did go to a "park".) the child's mother returned home and discovered her 7 year old daughter was not there. It was apparently reported to the police, but Melissa returned the child to the family's home either while the police were there or shortly before the police got there or shortly after the police left. (Again, it depends on which report you read!) The child's older sister has told reporters that when her little sister arrived home she was very disoriented, dizzy, slurring her speech and falling down. The family took the child to the hospital and lab tests revealed that she had benzodiazepines in her blood.
I googled benzodiazepines and found an interesting definition of them on the University of Maryland's website.
I don't know about the rest of you, but that last sentence really bothers me.............
Benzodiazepines are among the most commonly prescribed depressant medications in the United States today. More than 15 different types of benzodiazepine medications exist to treat a wide array of both psychological and physical maladies based on dosage and implications. To be characterized as such, each benzodiazepine displays one or more of the following drug actions: anxiety relief, hypnotic, muscle relaxant, anti-convulsant, or an amnesiatic (mild memory-loss inducer). Due to their sedative properties, benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse, especially when used with other depressants such as alcohol or opiates. Benzodiazepines are classified as Schedule IV in the Controlled Substances Act.
Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax© (alprazolam), Librium© (chlordiazepoxide), Valium© (diazepam), and Ativan© (lorazepam). Another benzodiazepine that has been the focus of a great deal of media attention is flunitrazepam, trade name Rohypnol©, which is known widely as "the date-rape drug" due to its involvement in many sexual assault cases in recent years.
(Here's a link to one of the reports about the incident with the other child that Melissa was involved with in January: The Tracy Press)