Trial pushed back for man accused of killing niece

EFFINGHAM — A 22-year-old southern Illinois man accused of fatally stabbing his 7-year-old niece won't go on trial until next year.

The Effingham Daily News reports an Effingham County judge on Monday tentatively scheduled Justin DeRyke's trial for February. But State's Attorney Bryan Kibler says it likely will be later than that because DeRyke's attorney has so many audio and video interviews to review.

DeRyke is accused of killing Willow Long in September near her home in Watson, a village about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.

Investigators say DeRyke insisted he killed his niece to "put her out of her misery" after he says she fell onto a brush pile and pierced her neck.

DeRyke has pleaded not guilty and is jailed on $5 million bond.