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St. Louis, MO (KTRS) - Justin Deryke, the man accused of murdering his 7-year-old niece last year, is headed to prison for the rest of his life.
Deryke pleaded guilty to the murder of Willow Long. On September 7 Deryke was watching Willow when he chased her out of the the house. Deryke claimed that Willow fell on a pile branches and one pierced her neck. An autopsy revealed she suffered stab wounds.
As part of the plea agreement, Deryke was sentenced to life in prison.
EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - The mother of a 7-year-old southern Illinois girl who authorities say was stabbed to death by an uncle made her first court appearance.
The Effingham Daily News reports 26-year-old Ciara DeRyke of Watson was granted a public defender Tuesday in Effingham County. She faces a misdemeanor obstruction count alleging she lied to authorities.
Authorities say DeRyke claimed to have last seen daughter Willow Long alive in their home the morning of Sept. 8. But the girl was already dead, her body found the next day near a river.
State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says DeRyke wasn't involved in the killing or efforts to conceal it. He alleges she lied to make her appear to be a better mother, covering up that she was out the night of the killing.
The trial for the man accused of murdering 7-year-old Willow Long has been postponed again.
Justin DeRyke was set to appear in court next week, but the defense says they need more time to prepare. DeRyke is accused of murdering his niece. The new trial date is February 10.
DeRyke remains in the Effingham County Jail under a $5 million bond.
EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - A 22 year old southern Illinois man accused of fatally stabbing his 7 year old niece won't go on trial until next year.
The Effingham Daily News reports an Effingham County judge on Monday tentatively scheduled Justin DeRyke's trial for February. But State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says it likely will be later than that because DeRyke's attorney has so many audio and video interviews to review.
DeRyke is accused of killing Willow Long in September near her home in Watson, a village about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.
Investigators say DeRyke insisted he killed his niece to "put her out of her misery" after he says she fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck.
DeRyke has pleaded not guilty and is jailed on $5 million bond.
The mother of Willow Long was arrested this month on drug possession charges.
Police records show that Ciara DeRyke was arrested on October 14, police stopped her for speeding and found marijuana in her car. The arrest came a little over a month after investigators say her daughter, Willow, was killed by Justin DeRyke. Justin has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder.
Jury selection is supposed to start in December, but the trial is not expected to get underway until 2014.