A teary-eyed Melissa Huckaby winced at the word “murder,” “rape” and “Sandra” during a court appearance today at which prosecutors charged her with murder, kidnapping and rape with a foreign object in the death of Sandra Cantu, 8.

Huckaby entered no plea as public defender Ellen Schwarzenberg was assigned to defend the woman who could face the death penalty or life without parole if convicted.

San Joaquin County District Attorney Jim Willett said Huckaby’s mental health issues will have an effect on the case, though how remains unclear at the moment.

The one-time Baptist church Sunday school teacher in January pleaded no contest to a burglary and robbery charge, and two psychiatrists in that case interviewed Huckaby to see if she was fit to stand trial. They said she was.

After today’s hearing, Huckaby’s first since her arrest late Friday night, the suspect’s family was ushered out of the courtroom without speaking to the media.

Huckaby was arrested 14 days after Sandra’s disappearance from the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park on West Clover Road, where Huckaby lived with her 5-year-old daughter and grandparents, Clifford Lane and Connie Lawless.

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