Hannibal murder trial postponed until April

Manuel Cazares

The Hannibal Courier-Post reports the trial of Hannibal murder suspect Manuel G. Cazares has been rescheduled for April 12 to 15.

St. Charles County Judge Nancy Schneider set the new dates Thursday after consulting with public defender Todd Schulze and special prosecutor Kevin Zoellner.

A jury of seven men and five women with four male alternates was selected Monday, but ice and snow caused a two-day shutdown of the courthouse in St. Charles. The trial was moved there on a change of venue.

Cazares, 34, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Feb. 28, 2009, stabbing deaths of 27-year-old Amanda R. Thomas and 25-year-old C. Patrick Epley at her Hannibal apartment.

The jury will get to see photos from the crime scene and the autopsies of the victims, but won TMt hear that Cazares is an illegal Mexican immigrant or that Thomas had sought three orders of protection against him.

Those attending the trial cannot wear clothing or items that depict the victims or could be considered memorials to them. Schneider has approved the use of a video camera in the courtroom.

Police say Cazares, who fathered a child with Thomas, turned himself in a few hours after the killings.

He reportedly directed investigators to the bodies of Thomas and Epley in the apartment. Epley was a friend of Thomas' from their days as students in Monroe City.

During earlier testimony in the case, police reported Cazares confessed to the crime and said that jealousy was his motive. Investigators said Cazares was in America illegally.

Authorities said Cazares and Thomas met in Hannibal. The suspect told them the two-year relationship ended in fall 2008, but that he and Thomas kept in periodic contact because of their child.

Cazares had several previous run-ins with the law, but always provided what appeared to be legitimate identification to authorities. The documents later proved to be false.

Thomas did not enforce two of the orders of protection against Cazares. She died before a hearing could be held on the third.

If convicted by a jury of all the charges he faces, Cazares could get 90 years behind bars.

Cazares is being held on $1 million cash-only bond.