In a bid to move her case closer to trial, prosecutors have obtained a grand jury indictment of Giselle Esteban on charges that she murdered nursing student Michelle Le.
Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo woman who was attending Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward in May. Her body was found in a remote area between Pleasanton and Sunol on Sept. 17.
Esteban, a 27-year-old Union City woman who attended high school with Le in San Diego, was charged with Le’s murder on Sept. 8 — before Le’s body was found — based on DNA evidence and cellphone records.
Esteban appeared in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland today on the murder charge contained in the indictment, but her arraignment and plea entry were delayed until Jan. 20 at the request of her attorney, Andrea Auer.
Auer asked that the hearing be postponed until February because she is busy with another murder case, but Judge Carrie Panetta denied her request.
Prosecutor Butch Ford said an Alameda County criminal grand jury indicted Esteban last Wednesday after a three-day hearing. The transcript of the hearing is 470 pages long, and remains sealed for the time being.
The grand jury indictment allows prosecutors to bypass the step of having a preliminary hearing — a hearing at which a judge determines whether there is enough evidence against a defendant for a case to proceed to trial.
Ford said his office sought a grand jury indictment to make the trial process “more efficient.”
After Esteban was charged in September, a number of her hearings were postponed because of medical issues related to her pregnancy. She has since given birth.
Le’s cousin, Kristine Dinh, and several other family members and friends attended Esteban’s hearing today but declined to comment afterward.