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Gag Order Still In Place in Melissa Huckaby Case

Scribbled in the margins of the clerk's minutes from Monday's surprise Melissa Huckaby plea deal is this phrase, "DA request to lift gag order, defense council joins, court denies request at this time."

It has been months since San Joaquin County court judge Linda Lofthus issued a gag order on all parties involved in the Sandra Cantu murder case. FOX40 wanted to know why, after Huckaby struck a plea deal in the case, admitting to killing and kidnapping 7-year-old Sandra Cantu, there is still a gag order on the case.

FOX40 legal analyst Ken Rosenfeld has a theory, "The judge does not want anything to compromise the plea. She hasn't been sentenced yet. There is a big difference between the plea and the sentencing - a lot can happen between the plea and sentencing to ruin the plea and put everything back to square one."

On Monday, prosecutor Tom Testa asked Judge Lofthus to further question Huckaby about her sudden plea change. Rosenfeld thinks everyone involved is fearful Huckaby may change her mind again.

"The concern is for the court, for the judge that the defendant, Ms. Huckaby, might want to withdraw her plea of guilty and state that her mental state was not clear, she was not feeling well, she was not clear in thinking and that would ruin everything at this point," says Rosenfeld.

Three media organizations, including the Stockton Record are pushing to drop the gag order. Once Huckaby is sentenced, Rosenfeld says it's likely the gag order will have to be dropped because there isn't any legal precedent to keep it in place.

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