'Significant' news anticipated in hearing of man accused of molesting, killing girl

Story highlights

  • A court hearing is planned Friday in Jarred Harrell's case, a sheriff's office says
  • He is charged with kidnapping, molesting and killing 7-year-old Somer Thompson
  • Harrell has pleaded not guilty to the charges
  • The girl was found in a Georgia landfill about 55 miles from where she was last seen
A Florida man accused of kidnapping, molesting and killing a 7-year-old girl will be in court Friday for a hearing that a sheriff's office said could include "significant court action" regarding his case.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office signaled there could be a notable development at Jarred Harrell's pretrial hearing, though it did not provide details.
Harrell, who was 24 when the alleged crimes occurred, is now 26.
"Harrell will be present for this proceeding," the sheriff's office said in a statement Thursday. "Should significant court action occur Friday as anticipated, personnel from the fourth judicial circuit of Florida state attorney's office and the Clay County Sheriff's Office will join members of Somer Thompson's family for public comment afterwards."
Somer Thompson's body was found in October 2009 in a landfill in Folkston, Georgia, about 55 miles north of the Clay County town of Orange Park, Florida, where she was last seen days earlier.
In February 2010, Harrell was arrested in Meridian, Mississippi, by federal agents following a search of his Florida residence, Clay County authorities said. He was charged with 29 counts of child pornography, and eventually extradited back to Florida.
A few weeks later on April 1, 2010, Harrell was indicted on four additional counts -- first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual battery and lewd and lascivious molestation -- related to the disappearance and death.
In the indictment, prosecutors said Harrell killed the girl "by asphyxiation with blunt force injuries." He also "forcibly or by threat" held the girl "against her will and without lawful authority," the document states.
Harrell pleaded not guilty to those charges.
On the day she went missing, her 10-year-old sister told police that Thompson had been in a fight with another girl at school that day and had brought up the subject while she and her brother walked her home.
Thompson ran off, apparently upset. The older sister said she lost sight of her in a group of other children leaving the school, according to a police report.
After her daughter's body was found, Diena Thompson told reporters that she "will not sleep until" her daughter's killer was found.
"I hope they get you, and I hope they make you pay for a long, long time. You don't take from somebody. You didn't just take her from me," the slain girl's mother said.
"You took her from my family, you took her from all these people. And you don't do this to a little baby and put my baby in the trash like she's nothing. That's not OK, this is not OK."