Soria computer file subject of court hearing |

Soria computer file subject of court hearing

by Christy Chalmers, Tribune News Service

Douglas District Judge Dave Gamble will hear arguments Monday on whether a computer file that describes assaulting and killing women can be used in the January trial of Thomas Soria Sr.

The computer file and the use of DNA evidence are expected to addressed in a hearing that could take up to three days.

Soria Sr., 39, is accused of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing 9-year-old Krystal Steadman. Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins wants Gamble to allow as evidence a 17-page computer file that describes fantasies of assaulting, torturing and killing women and girls.

The file was found on a computer in Soria Sr.’s bedroom closet, Perkins said, and contains descriptions that are similar to Steadman’s death.

Soria Sr.’s attorneys want the computer file suppressed. They say there’s no proof Soria Sr. wrote it and argue it could unfairly prejudice jurors.

“At best, it might be described as a fantasy, albeit a perverted fantasy, which does not acknowledge the truth of any of the facts involved in proving the elements of the charged offenses,” defense lawyer Michael Roeser wrote. “While one might attempt to argue similarities between the text and what happened to Krystal Steadman, the differences are as numerous as the similarities.”

“If you say you are going to get someone and then you do, the jury is allowed to hear what you said,” Perkins wrote in his response. “That is what the defendant did.”

The defense team also challenged the warrants used by investigators who searched Soria’s apartment. They say the contents of the computer were illegally obtained because the machine was analyzed in California by technicians who didn’t have a California warrant.

Court records include copies of several warrants that were issued in the days following Steadman’s death. The warrants cover Soria’s apartment, and investigators said they took everything from carpet fibers to hair samples from a cat.

Roeser has also asked Gamble to postpone a decision on whether testimony by DNA experts will be allowed. Perkins wants the evidence allowed without a full-scale admissibility hearing, but Roeser says the defense’s experts haven’t finished their tests.

The defense lawyers have already made several objections to the use of DNA evidence. In earlier hearings, they questioned the reliability and credibility of DNA analysis. Investigators used DNA evidence to link Soria Sr. to Steadman’s death.

The defense team says prosecutors have no other evidence putting Soria Sr. at the crime scene or connecting him to the body.

Soria’s son, Thomas Jr., previously pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder in the case and was sentenced to life in prison. He has agreed to testify against his father.

Steadman disappeared from a parking lot at the Lake Park Apartments in Stateline March 19. Her battered body was found a day later off Highway 50.

Soria Jr., who had been seen with Steadman before she disappeared, was arrested a day later. His father was arrested a week later in an unrelated sexual assault case, then charged in Steadman’s death.

Soria Sr. remains jailed.

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