Jace Crehan will stand trial in December in the fatal July 2015 stabbing and strangling of a Zachary man who had pleaded "no contest" 13 days earlier to molesting Crehan's girlfriend when she was a child, a Baton Rouge judge decided Friday.

Crehan, 23, of Walker, was scheduled to go on trial July 24 on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of 47-year-old Robert Noce Jr. But Crehan's attorneys asked for more time to prepare their case after Brittany Monk — the mother of his child — pleaded guilty June 26 to manslaughter in Noce's slaying and agreed to testify against Crehan.

State District Judge Tony Marabella gave Crehan a new trial date of Dec. 4. The judge, at the request of prosecutors, also pushed Monk's sentencing back from Oct. 19 to Jan. 18.

Crehan would be sentenced to life in prison if found guilty of second-degree murder. Monk, 19, also of Walker, faces up to 40 years behind bars for manslaughter. She admitted helping Crehan kill Noce. A day after she pleaded guilty, prosecutors rejected Crehan's offer to plead guilty to manslaughter.

"I believe we are going to try the case on Dec. 4," Franz Borghardt, one of Crehan's attorneys, said after court. "The state of Louisiana wants to put our client away for life, and we don't think that's justice."

Noce, the former boyfriend of Monk's mother, was found July 5, 2015, stuffed inside a 55-gallon plastic drum inside his Zachary trailer. Monk was 17 and seven months pregnant with Crehan's child at the time. She later delivered a baby boy.

Noce was on probation for five years after pleading "no contest" to carnal knowledge of a juvenile involving Monk. A no contest plea carries the same weight as a guilty plea in criminal court, but cannot be used a defendant in civil court. Noce was not sentenced to any prison time.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Darwin Miller on Friday turned over to Crehan's lawyers three discs that represent Monk's taped statement to authorities prior to her guilty plea.

Carson Marcantel, one of Crehan's attorneys, told Marabella the defense needed time to adequately review her statement and prepare a defense.

The judge agreed, saying Crehan's defense strategy was likely "altered significantly" by Monk's guilty plea.

"It would appear the defense has a lot of work to do," he added.

At the request of both sides, Marabella ordered Monk's statement filed under seal.

Crehan's next court date, a pretrial conference, is Oct. 20.

Crehan has confessed to law enforcement, and in letters and phone calls to The Advocate that he killed Noce. The letters were detailed in a news article. Prosecutors used a subpoena to obtain Crehan's letters from the newspaper.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.