Amber Langley murder trial looking at 2024 start date

Jon Johnson File Photo: Amber Langley is led back to jail after a previous court visit. On Tuesday, she appeared for her court hearing via videoconference from jail.

Woman accused of murdering autistic daughter and disposing of her in a cattle water trough

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Citing the ongoing analysis of voluminous amounts of evidence, both the prosecution and defense advised the court on Tuesday that the earliest start date in the first-degree murder trial against Amber Rae (Jones) Langley, 38, wouldn’t be until next year. 

Langley is accused of murdering her 14-year-old autistic daughter, Cadance, and disposing of her body in a cattle water trough south of Safford. Cadance was found on Oct. 26, 2020, wrapped in a blanket and covered in a plastic bag with a fatal gunshot to her head.

Cadance’s identity went unknown for nearly two years while Langley perpetrated a ruse that she was alive and well and continued to collect federal benefits for her. DNA evidence identified Cadance as Langley’s daughter, and Langley was initially arrested on Aug. 24, 2022, on charges of fraudulent schemes artifices. The charge of murder in the first degree was filed on Sept. 1, 2022

On Tuesday, Langley appeared via videoconference from the Graham County Adult Detention Facility in front of Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Travis W. Ragland for a pretrial conference. The case is being tried by Graham County Chief Deputy County Attorney C. Allan Perkins and Ms. Langley is represented by attorneys Dennis McCarthy and Daisy Flores.      

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Amber Langley is led to the Justice of the Peace courtroom. She is accused of murdering her 14-year-old autistic daughter and disposing of her in a cattle water trough.

McCarthy addressed the court and advised that due to a large amount of discovery, he and Flores would need additional time to pour over the evidence. In this sense, discovery is the formal process of exchanging information between the prosecution and defense about the witnesses and evidence to be presented at trial. 

“To have a realistic discussion about the case, we’re going to need a little more time than ordinary for the next pretrial conference,” McCarthy said.

He then suggested the next hearing be set for June 6, and added that a trial date for sometime in 2024 would likely be set at the hearing. 

“I just want to assure the court that we’re moving along as quickly as possible,” McCarthy said. 

Graham County Chief Deputy County Attorney C. Allan Perkins agreed with McCarthy on the timetable for a trial and said he just received a large amount of DNA and ballistics evidence from the FBI. Perkins said he believed it could be the last significant amount of evidence he expects to obtain.

He added that the prosecution has 80 to 90 witnesses to pair down before starting interviews, which will easily push the trial date to 2024. While Perkins is set to retire next year, he told the court he planned on remaining on this case to its conclusion. 

“This will take time,” he said. “I agree that we’re going to have to go into 2024. I’ve already told Mr. Bennett that although I plan on retiring at the start of 2024, I will hang around to help with Langley once it goes.”

Judge Ragland set Langley’s next hearing as a pretrial conference on June 6, starting at 8:30 a.m.

For a full account of this tragic story, read Gila Herald: November 19, 2022 “My name is Cadance: The tragedy of Cadance and Amber Langley”.