US prosecutors said that they will call up to 50 witnesses in their case against three girls accused of bullying an Irish classmate so relentlessly that she committed suicide.
Ashley Longe, Sharon Chanon Velazquez and Flannery Mullins appeared with their lawyers in Juvenile Court in Hadley, Massachusetts, on Thursday. They are expected to stand trial in early 2011.
The trio are among a group of six teenagers charged earlier this year with bullying Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old South Hadley High School student who hanged herself in January.
Their lawyers said that they will file motions by November 1 asking a judge to throw out the grand jury's indictments based on insufficient evidence.
Longe, Velazquez and Mullins were each 16 when they were charged as youthful offenders with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury. Mullins and Velazquez also are charged with stalking. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say some of their witnesses are now in college and will be called back to the area to testify.
Phoebe, who had recently emigrated from Ireland, hanged herself in January after what prosecutors call a relentless campaign of bullying by the other students.
According to prosecutors, Mullins, Velazquez and Longe were angry over her brief relationship with Austin Renaud, Mullins' on-off boyfriend.
Renaud and another teenager, Sean Mulveyhill, face statutory rape charges for allegedly having sexual contact with Phoebe. They have pleaded not guilty. Mulveyhill and his ex-girlfriend, Kayla Narey, also face the same civil rights charge levied against Longe, Velazquez and Mullins.
The cases against Narey, Mulveyhill and Renaud are being handled in Hampshire Superior Court, where all have pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors say they are expected to go to trial after the three younger teenagers.