In a brief court appearance on Monday, Cesar Laurean entered a plea of not guilty in the death of 20-year-old Maria Lauterbach.
Lauterbach’s charred remains were found by sheriff's deputies under a fire pit in Laurean's backyard in January 2008. She was eight months pregnant.
In 2007, Lauterbach told military officials that she had been raped by Laurean, but later recanted that story. DNA tests have recently ruled out Laurean as the father of Lauterbach’s unborn child.
A judge has set March 15, 2010 for the trial to begin. Laurean’s defense attorney, Dick McNeal says he has eight pending murder cases and wouldn’t be ready for trial before next year.
McNeal said this is a serious case with a lot of issues and it will take some time to review.
District Attorney Dewey Hudson was not happy after Monday's hearing, saying the trial date is too far away, adding the case should be handled expeditiously.
Laurean is being held in isolation in Onslow County, North Carolina.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa filed a motion on Tuesday asking the presiding judge to enter a plea of not guilty and to set a preliminary hearing date for 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby.
Huckaby is due to appear in court for the fourth time at 1:20 pm this Friday and Public Defender Sam Behar has yet to enter a plea for Huckaby. The motion filed Tuesday gives the court the ability to file a plea on her behalf.
Huckaby was arrested on April 10 for allegedly raping and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. Later, additional charges were added that she “furnished a harmful substance” to a 36-year-old man named Daniel Plowman and a 7-year-old girl.
Prosecutors are apparently growing impatient and want to get the case moving referencing statute that “All criminal actions in which … a minor … is the victim … shall be given precedence over all other criminal actions in the order of trial.”
Motion To Set Preliminary Hearing Date