Rape, murder case could be death-penalty first in Nevada
The violent rape and murder last week of a 9-year-old South Lake Tahoe girl could lead to the unprecedented execution in Nevada of both a father and his son.
Since the turn of the century, when the state of Nevada outlawed hangings and began keeping records of those sentenced to die, there has never been a case where members of the same family were put to death for the same crime.
Thomas Soria Sr. and his 19-year-old son have been accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Krystal Steadman March 19, before cutting her throat and leaving her body by the side of U.S. Highway 50 near Carson City.
Both men are being held without bail and Douglas County prosecutors have reserved the right to seek the death penalty against them.
“Whenever you lose a child it is a terrible thing, but when it is a homicide it is a shocking thing,” Assistant District Attorney Tom Perkins said.
The son, Thomas Soria Jr. fell under suspicion immediately after Steadman disappeared. Witnesses said the girl was last seen riding on the running board of Soria Jr.’s father’s Chevy Blazer outside the Lake Park Apartments where he lives and worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.
Soria Jr. was arrested the next morning, just hours after Steadman’s body was found, but his father was not charged with the crimes until Wednesday, more than a week later. Both men are now charged with kidnapping, sexual assault and murder in connection with Steadman’s death. They were also charged with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl that occurred last October.
“Examination of trace evidence has linked Soria Sr. to the sexual assault and murder of Krystal Steadman,” Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said. “It seems as if this was a very traumatic and terrible event for her.”
Pierini said that investigators are looking into the possibility that the Sorias are responsible for other sexual assaults and are focusing their efforts in Sacramento, where the family lived until 1999.
Soria Sr., an unemployed computer technician who had worked as a lottery security officer in the Sacramento area, had a prior arrest in 1998 for making obscene, threatening phone calls to two female coworkers. That included a rape threat in one case, court records state. He spent 75 days in jail and was placed on three years’ probation.
The son – who was arrested in April 1999 for burglary, possession of stolen property and attempting to pass a bad check – worked part time for the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe for seven months where he helped children with their homework every day after school.
In July of 1999 Soria Jr. allegedly introduced a 15-year-old girl, whose father lives in the apartment building, to his father. Over the next few months, according to investigators’ reports, the girl developed a friendship with the family including Soria Sr. and his wife, Lupe.
Early last October the son allegedly convinced the girl to have sex with the father. Soria Sr. is accused of sexually assaulting the 15-year-old, and the son is charged with helping him commit the crime.
“Junior introduced the victim to the father as his uncle,” Pierini said. “Together they persuaded her that the uncle would die if she did not have sex with him.”
According to investigators’ reports, Soria Sr.’s wife did nothing to disabuse the girl who thought that “Uncle Tom” had brain tumors that could explode if he got upset.
Both men are tentatively scheduled to next appear in court on April 12 for a preliminary hearing on the charges stemming from the October sexual assault. However, the attorneys for the Sorias are meeting with the judge on April 5 to confirm the dates on which the cases will proceed.
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