Federal authorities are asking to postpone a hearing in the Brooke Bennett case. Prosecutors say they need more time to collect evidence for potential indictments against the two suspects. The requests for more time mean it could be at least another two months before we learn whether the government has enough evidence to charge anyone for the murder of Brooke Bennett.
Michael Jacques, 42, faces federal kidnapping charges in connection with the disappearance and murder of his niece, Brooke Bennett, 12.
She disappeared five weeks ago. Her body was found a week later covered by dirt less than a mile from Jacques' home. He is a registered convicted sex offender for a 1992 rape.
Prosecutors say Jacques could potentially face the death penalty, depending on what he is ultimately charged with.
Brooke's former stepfather, Raymond Gagnon, faces federal charges of obstruction of justice for allegedly destroying computer evidence in connection with the investigation.
Both men are being held on charges based on affidavits, but no one is charged with the girl's murder and authorities have released no information detailing how she died.
More information about the investigation was expected to be revealed over the next week at probable cause hearings.
But those have now been canceled because federal prosecutors want at least 60 more days to gather additional evidence for potential indictments against both men.
Now in their documents seeking the extension, the prosecutors say the investigation is still in its initial stages and has been slowed by false evidence and evidence that was destroyed. They say their efforts have been hindered by e-mail accounts registered under fictitious names.
The federal prosecutor declined comment. We were unable to reach lawyers for Jacques and Gagnon. However, the documents say they are not opposed to the time extension.
Vermont Law School Professor Cheryl Hanna says this is not unusual. She says it could mean many things, including the possibility that the feds are looking at additional suspects and the possibility of conspiracy charges.
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