Pregnant Suspect in Student's Death Delays Plea

Giselle Esteban appeared in court for the first time

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Esteban was arrested earlier this week for her alleged involvement in the Michelle Le case.

    The woman charged with killing a Northern California nursing student appeared in an Alameda County courtroom for the first time on Friday, but delayed entering a plea.

    Giselle Esteban appeared briefly behind a glass partition wearing a red jail jumpsuit. Prosecutors charged her with murder in the death of Michelle Le, 26, who disappeared more than three months ago while taking a break from her student duties at a Hayward hospital.

    As Superior Court Judge Michael Gaffey read Esteban her rights he asked if she planned to retain a private attorney.

    Progress Made in Michelle Le Case

    [DGO] Progress Made in Michelle Le Case
    Police arrested a woman on suspicion of murder in the Michelle Le case. While family members are please progress has been made, they are hoping Le is still alive.

    "I'm not quite sure," said Esteban, later adding that she understood the judge's orders.

    Gaffey referred her to the public defender's office. Esteban was due back in court on Monday, when she may enter a plea.

    Police believe Esteban, a former friend of Le's from high school in San Diego, attacked Le in the hospital's parking garage more than three months ago.

    Le was last seen May 27 at the hospital where she was doing a clinical rotation. She had told colleagues she was going to her car, but never returned. Her locked Honda SUV was later found a half-mile away.

    Police have said that video surveillance footage shows Esteban at the scene before and after Le's disappearance. Police said they also found traces of Le's blood inside her SUV and physical evidence that Esteban had also been inside the vehicle, as well as Le's DNA on one of Esteban's shoes.

    Le's body hasn't been found, and family members said after Friday's hearing that another search has been planned for next weekend.

    "We still want her back," cousin Krystine Dinh said. "We're keeping up hope."

    Esteban was arrested Wednesday outside her Union City home and was being held without bail. Her arraignment was postponed Thursday because of a non-emergency medical issue related to her pregnancy. While in custody, she will get extra nutritional items and prenatal care, Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman J.D. Nelson said Friday.

    "But as far as some 'get-out-of-jail-free' card, that's not the case," Nelson said. "She serves her time in the jail just like everybody else."

    If Esteban gives birth while in custody, it would be at a hospital where she could spend time with her newborn while authorities decide whether the baby should be placed with its father, with other family members or with Child Protective Services, Nelson said.


    Copyright NBC San Diego / Associated Press