Madeline Soto homicide case: Judge grants delay of Stephan Sterns trial for murder, sex-related charges

Stephan Sterns, the man accused of killing 13-year-old Madeline Soto, is looking to delay his murder trial that was originally set for next week. 

Sterns' public defender on Wednesday morning filed a motion to continue because they need more time to prepare for trial, which was previously scheduled for July 16, according to Osceola County court documents. Prosecutors didn't object to moving the trial back, which means Sterns would waive his constitutional right to a speedy trial, the filing said. 

A motion to continue was also filed in the case against Sterns regarding 60 additional charges he's facing related to sexual battery, molestation and possession of child sex abuse material, according to online records. The actual court document was not immediately made available. 

The judge in Wednesday afternoon's hearing granted the defense's motion to continue and set a status hearing for Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. That's for both Sterns' first degree murder charge and the 60 additional charges

"We have quite a bit of work to do on the case," Sterns' attorney said during the hearing. 

Sterns was not in court, as he waived his appearance. 

Stephan Sterns (Photo: Osceola County Jail)

Both trial dates are now up in the air after the motions to continue were granted.

911 calls from morning Madeline Soto went missing released 

Sterns was charged with 60 counts of sexual battery, molestation and possession of child sex abuse material two days after Madeline was first reported missing. He voluntarily turned his phone over to investigators during the search for the missing teen, which yielded the discovery of graphic photos and videos, officials said. 

Madeline was first reported missing on Feb. 26 after she didn't make it to school. Investigators determined that she was likely already dead before that morning. Her body was found in rural Osceola County later that week. 

Madeline Soto (Photo: Jenn Soto)

Madeline Soto memorialized in middle school yearbook: 'I miss you so much' 

Sterns was charged for the teen's murder two months later via grand jury indictment, the State Attorney's Office announced on April 25. 

Stephan Sterns being transferred from the Orange County Jail to the Osceola County Jail 

"The evidence shows an individual that was entrusted to keep Madeline safe made calculated moves to dispose Madeline's belongings and place her body in a wooded area before she was ever reported missing," Kissimmee Police Chief Betty Holland said in a press conference announcing the charges. 

Could Madeline Soto's mother Jenn Soto be charged for murder post-Stephan Sterns indictment? 

In the weeks leading up to Wednesday's pretrial hearings, FOX 35 has obtained hundreds of pages of documents related to both cases involving Sterns, including police interviews, evidence lists and other investigative material. 

These documents shed light on where and how Madeline's body was found, key items collected as evidence, and details about Sterns' relationship with the teenager, like how they texted frequently and sometimes slept in the same bed together with her mother's permission. 

The State Attorney's Office said they intend to seek the death penalty against Sterns for the alleged murder of Madeline. Right now, Sterns is the only person charged in Madeline's death. He remains in custody at the Osceola County Jail.