DNA links Soria Sr. to girl’s assault | RecordCourier.com

DNA links Soria Sr. to girl’s assault

by Christy Chalmers

Court records say DNA analysis directly links Thomas Soria Sr. to the sexual assault of the girl he and his son are accused of killing.

Soria Sr., 39, was formally charged Wednesday with murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in the death of Krystal Steadman, 9. His son, Thomas Soria Jr., 19, who was initially charged with her murder and kidnapping, also faces two counts of sexual assault in the girl’s death.

She disappeared from the parking lot of a Stateline apartment complex March 19 and her body was found a day later off Highway 50. Soria Jr., who was seen playing with Steadman, was initially suspected and charged in Steadman’s death. Investigators said they found human blood in his vehicle a few hours after Steadman disappeared.

Soria Sr. was first arrested March 28 and charged with sexual assault involving a 15-year-old girl in a separate case. Soria Jr. has also been charged in that case.

Attorneys certified to handle death penalty cases have been appointed to represent both men. Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said neither suspect is talking with investigators, who haven’t yet formed a theory about Steadman’s death.

“What role each of them played is still under investigation,” he said. “It is safe to say that Soria Sr. was an active participant.”

Court records say that genetic material found during an autopsy matched Soria Sr.’s, though final autopsy results have not been compiled and prosecutors said they probably won’t be made public.

The Sorias face the same charges in both cases. Prosecutors have filed notice they may seek the death penalty in the Steadman case, though a final decision will not be made until the investigation is complete.

Court records say Steadman’s mother contacted Soria Jr. after the girl initially disappeared and looked in his apartment, but wasn’t allowed to go in one of the bedrooms. A probable cause statement says Soria Sr. was asleep in one of the rooms when the mother came through.

Pierini said Douglas investigators are working with the Sacramento County, Calif. sheriff’s department. The Sorias moved to Stateline from the Sacramento area in 1999.

“We feel that there could be other victims,” said Pierini. “We have had a good dialogue with the authorities in California.”

Two messages left Friday at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department media bureau were not returned.

Court records say the other sexual assault case against the Sorias surfaced when the alleged victim told her mother about contact with the men. The records say Soria Jr. had befriended the girl and when she showed a romantic interest in him, he steered her toward Soria Sr., telling her that Soria Sr. suffered from tumors that could rupture and kill him if he became upset.

Soria Jr. is accused of aiding and abetting that alleged assault, which occurred in October 1999, the records say.

A preliminary hearing on the sexual assault case against Soria Sr. was initially set April 12 because he wanted the hearing within 15 days, as Nevada law allows. The date was postponed after the murder and kidnapping charges in the Steadman case were filed and Soria Sr. changed his mind about the speedy preliminary hearing.

An April 25 date has been set for a preliminary hearing for Soria Jr. in the Steadman case, but that date may also be changed. Both men are to appear again Wednesday in Tahoe Justice Court, where their attorneys will probably discuss scheduling future proceedings. Soria Sr.’s attorney, Michael Roeser, indicated he may ask for separate hearings.

The Sorias remain jailed without bail.