Jury selection could begin in six weeks in the case of a southern Illinois man who's accused of fatally stabbing his 7-year-old niece.

The Effingham Daily News reports lawyers will begin culling through potential jurors to hear the case of Justin S. DeRyke on Dec. 2.

But officials say the trial could be delayed and likely won't begin until 2014.

The 22-year-old is being held on $5 million bond. He's charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the slaying of Willow Long, who died in September near her family's Watson home about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis.

Investigators say DeRyke said he killed his niece to "put her out of her misery" after he says she fell and pierced her neck with a stick.

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