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Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby gets life without parole in murder of 8-year-old girl

June 14, 2010 | 10:54 am

A Sunday school teacher from Northern California accused of murdering an 8-year-old girl whose body was found stuffed into a suitcase was sentenced Monday to life without parole.

Melissa Huckaby, 29, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murdering the child, Sandra Cantu of Tracy, in a plea deal that allowed the woman to avoid the death penalty.

The child, who was a playmate of the defendant’s daughter, was found after the March 2009 killing stuffed into a suitcase that was pulled from an irrigation pond.

Huckaby pleaded guilty last month to murder and kidnapping.

The woman offered an emotional apology to the girl’s family before she was sentenced, according to the Associated Press.

"She did not suffer, and I did not sexually molest her," Huckaby said, mainly addressing the girl’s mother.

-- Robert Faturechi