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Judge sets Sept. court date for mom of missing Jhessye Shockley

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Jerice Hunter is accused of killing her 5-year-old daughter, Jhessye Shockley, even though the girl's body has never been found. (Source: CBS 5 News) Jerice Hunter is accused of killing her 5-year-old daughter, Jhessye Shockley, even though the girl's body has never been found. (Source: CBS 5 News)
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The mother charged with murdering her missing 5-year-old daughter, even though the girl's body has never been found, will return to court in September before a final trial date is set.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Rosa Mroz on Monday set a status conference hearing for Jerice Hunter at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 23. A trial date is expected to be set at that time, according to the court.

Hunter is accused of killing Jhessye Shockley, who disappeared in October 2011. Hunter also faces charges of child abuse.

Soon after October 2011, when Hunter reported her daughter missing, police announced that Hunter was the main focus in her daughter's disappearance.

Police and the FBI searched Hunter's home six weeks after Jhessye was reported missing, looking for clues in the girl's disappearance.

Police said they believe Hunter kept Jhessye in the closet and tortured her. One of Jhessye's older sisters told police the closet where Jhessye was kept "looked like a grave and smelled like dead people."

In June 2012, investigators ended a landfill search for Jhessye's body that began five months earlier.

Investigators said they were unable to recover any evidence from the Butterfield Landfill, where they believed Jhessye body or evidence leading to her body might be found.

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for updates on this developing story.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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