PUBLIC INFORMATION -- The Associated Press reports that a judge agreed Monday to unseal files in the case of a Sunday school teacher who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a young girl whose body was found in a suitcase.
The files were not immediately made available, however, because the family of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu was considering whether to appeal the ruling. If no appeal is pursued, the documents will likely be released later this week.
The Associated Press, Bay Area News Group and The Record newspaper of Stockton sought to have the material unsealed in the case against Melissa Huckaby.
The 29-year-old single mother pleaded guilty last month to murdering the Tracy girl in 2009. San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus sentenced Huckaby Monday to life without the possibility of parole then ruled the court would unseal search warrant affidavits and a grand jury transcript. Earlier in the day, Loftus lifted a gag order in the case, and authorities released their investigative report.
Loftus said autopsy photos introduced into the court record would remain under seal. She cited the California crime victims' bill of rights in making that decision. Lofthus expressed concern that Sandra's younger siblings might see the photos if they appeared on the Internet. The content of the photos was detailed in grand jury transcripts, she said.