It took more than a decade to arrest a man for the murder of Sarah Perry

Now, the state is racing against the clock for the testimony of a key witness.    

Sarah Perry's mother has waited 17 years to see the man she believes killed her daughter in handcuffs. 

"To know that he has been free for 17 years, he has walked around without the burden of being incarcerated, it's really hard to look at him," Pam Hilton said. 

The body of the 21-year-old mother of two was found in a garbage can in an East Ridge creek in 2000. 

An autopsy later showed Perry was strangled to death. 

Last year, Perry's ex-boyfriend Jason Sanford was charged with the crime and the case has been making its way through the criminal court system. 

"The problem now is just going to Detroit and getting this witness, who is very ill, getting his testimony," Hilton added. That testimony would come from Sanford's cousin, Michel Penetrics. 

The state believes it could help put Sanford behind bars for life, but prosecutors worry Penetrics may die of brain cancer before the trial. 

Judge Greenholtz granted the state's request Monday for a deposition, allowing attorney's from both sides to travel to Michigan and record Penetrics' testimony to later be used during the trial. 

Greenholtz will watch the deposition via video conference, just in case he needs to make any rulings. 

A step forward, Hilton said, toward justice for Sarah Perry.

"We feel like there's already been testimony that's been recorded. So we feel like they have everything that they need. We're just wanting to satisfy the court in every way so that there's no question at the end," she said. 

The deposition will be held on November 30th in Michigan. 

A trial date has not been set. 

Stay with Channel 3 for more on this developing story.