Madeline Soto case: Trial date set for Stephan Sterns

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A trial date was set Thursday for Stephan Sterns, the prime suspect in the disappearance of 13-year-old Madeline Soto.


The girl’s body was found March 1 in rural Osceola County, several days after she was reported missing in Orange County. But no one has been charged in her death so far.

During a pretrial hearing Thursday, another hearing was scheduled for April 24 and Sterns’ jury trial was scheduled for May 13. His arraignment is scheduled for April 2.

Read: Orange County Public Schools changes absence notification policies in light of Madeline Soto case

Former chief judge Belvin Perry Jr. told Channel 9 said he doubts the trial will begin in May.

“I don’t think this case is going to go,” he said. “If the murder charges are added, you’re going to be a year and a half to two years before it comes to trial.”

He said Sterns’ public defender may need more time.

“If the defense is not ready for trial -- which I don’t think they will be at that trial date -- they’re going to ‘move to continue’ to give them more time to examine the evidence,” Perry said.

Read: Madeline Soto case: Stephan Sterns faces 60 new charges

As for charges in Soto’s death, he said prosecutors are still building their case.

“They are waiting for all of the evidence to come in so they can carefully look at it, analyze it and make an informed decision as to the murder charge,” he said.

The State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that it filed 60 new charges against Sterns, including multiple counts of sexual battery of a child and child pornography possession.

Some of the charges Sterns faces are punishable by life in prison should he be convicted.

Read: Madeline Soto: A timeline of her disappearance & death

He is being held without bail at the Osceola County Jail.

Click here to read a full timeline of Soto’s disappearance and death.

Watch updates on Channel 9 Eyewitness News.

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Read: Madeline Soto: Story Jennifer Soto gave law enforcement doesn’t line up with what investigators know

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.

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