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.
Justin DeRyke was in court Thursday to enter a not guilty plea for the murder of his young niece.
With the plea, DeRyke moved the case closer to a trial. Police say DeRyke admitted to stabbing 7-year-old Willow Long to death, but he claims it was to "put her out of her misery". He claims that the girl fell into a pile of brush and a stick stabbed her in the neck. An autopsy result turned up evidence that prosecutors say contradict his story. The judge set the trial for December 2.
If convicted, DeRyke faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
A grand jury in Effingham County has indicted 22-year-old Justin DeRyke on three counts of first-degree murder.
DeRyke is accused of stabbing his 7-year-old niece Willow Long to death on September 8. For each count of murder, he faces a mandatory term of life in prison if convicted.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has taken her brother into protective custody and is investigating Willow's mother.
EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - Family and friends will say their formal goodbyes to a 7 year old southern Illinois girl who authorities allege was stabbed to death by her uncle.
Services for Willow Long of the tiny village of Watson in Effingham County are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at Effingham High School, followed by private burial.
Twenty-two year old Justin DeRyke was charged last Wednesday with first-degree murder in Willow's death.
Prosecutors say he told investigators he killed his niece to end her suffering after she accidentally fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck with a stick near the family's home.
DeRyke is being held on $5 million bond and hiring an attorney. He's set to appear again in court Thursday.
EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - A southern Illinois man is jailed on $5 million bond after being accused of stabbing his 7-year-old niece to death.
Effingham County prosecutors charged 22-year-old Justin DeRyke on Wednesday with three counts of first-degree murder. The criminal complaint alleges DeRyke stabbed Willow Long in the chest with a knife Sunday.
Four of the hundreds of volunteers who searched for the girl found her body Monday night near the small town of Watson, where the girl and DeRyke lived. DeRyke was arrested Tuesday morning.
Authorities have said Willow's mother was feeling ill and went back to bed Sunday morning, only to wake up a short time later and find her daughter missing.
A judge has given time for DeRyke to hire an attorney. DeRyke doesn't have a listed home telephone number.
The Effingham County state's attorney's office is releasing no information regarding the body discovered last night near where a seven year old girl went missing from her home in Watson, Illinois on Sunday. Authorities and volunteers had been searching for Willow Long when remains were found around 7:30 PM on Monday. There has been no identification of the body and an autopsy is expected to be performed today. According to Fox-2 news, crime scene tape surrounds the little girl's home and the Illinois State Police have assumed control of the investigation. Willow's mother says she was napping when the girl walked out of the house and disappeared.