Facing New Charges, Accused Child Killer Enters No Plea

Sandra Cantu Case: Accused Killer Melissa Huckaby Gets Third Chance to Speak in Court

The Sunday school teacher accused of raping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu appeared in court today for the first time in a month, but again delayed her trial by not entering a plea. Melissa Huckaby appeared in California's Joaquin County Superior Court hours after a slew of new charges were announced, which accuse the 28-year-old mother of allegedly drugging two people, a 7-year-old child and a man.

Huckaby's attorney, public defender Sam Behar, said he received 1,000 pages of evidence Thursday and was not ready to enter a plea. It is the third time she has appeared in court without entering a plea.

With both her family and Sandra's family members in the courtroom, Huckaby showed little emotion. She spoke only once, saying, "Yes," to the judge's question about whether she agreed to further delay her plea.

The new charges against Huckaby include felony child endangerment and "furnishing a harmful substance" in the case of a 7-year-old girl identified only as "Jane M. Doe."

She was also charged with "furnishing a harmful substance," either by food or drink, to a man named Daniel Plowman March 2, nearly three weeks before Sandra disappeared.

According to court documents released today, the charges allege that Huckaby "willfully and unlawfully mingled a harmful substance with food or drink" in both cases.

An 18-year-old woman, who declined to be identified, told ABC News last month that her 7-year-old sister went missing with Huckaby in January and came home drugged.

"Her speech was slurred ... like she had a really bad lisp," the woman said of her sister. "And she would cry a lot like something was wrong with her. She couldn't stand up without help. She couldn't walk. Every time she tried to walk, she would fall.

"So they took her to the hospital, and the hospital told us that she had muscle relaxants in her system," the teenager said.

The woman alleged last month that the death of Sandra Cantu might not have happened if detectives had taken her sister's case more seriously at the time.

Police have denied mishandling the case.

The documents detailing the new charges were filed in San Joaquin Superior Court Thursday. There were no changes to the charges pertaining to Sandra's death.

It has been nearly a month since Huckaby appeared in court. But that hasn't quelled interest in the second-grader's widely publicized death.

Officials had to turn people away at Huckaby's previous two hearings, San Joaquin County Superior Court spokeswoman Stephanie Bohrer said. They held separate lotteries before each arraignment, one for media and one for the general population that is simply interested in front-row seats to one of the area's most gruesome crimes.

Although cameras have been barred from the courtroom, Huckaby, the granddaughter of a local pastor, appeared more composed during her April 24 hearing than she did shortly after her arrest, when she cried and seemed distraught.

Everyone connected to the case, including police, potential witnesses and lawyers and family members for both sides, have been silenced under a gag order. Autopsy results and most court motions also remain sealed, giving little information about what kind of evidence the state has against Huckaby or exactly how Sandra Cantu died.

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