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Judge rules evidence was collected legally

by Christy Chalmers, staff writer

A Douglas County judge hasn’t decided if prosecutors can show jurors a lurid computer file written by an accused child killer.

District Judge Dave Gamble on Monday denied a request by attorneys for Thomas Robert Soria Sr., 39, to suppress a 17-page text file that describes fantasies of sexually assaulting, torturing and killing women and girls.

Soria Sr. is charged with sexual assault, kidnapping and murder in the March 19 death of Krystal Steadman, 9.

Her battered body was found off Highway 50 west of Carson City a day after she disappeared from a parking lot at the Lake Park Apartments in Stateline, where the Soria family lived. Soria’s son, Thomas Jr., 20, previously pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping and is serving a lifetime prison sentence.

Prosecutors say the computer file contains “striking similarities” to the circumstances surrounding Krystal’s murder, but Soria Sr.’s attorneys challenged the warrants used to seize and search the machine.

Gamble said investigators had adequate cause and their warrants were sufficient for their searches, including the computer drive.

While he denied the request to suppress the file, Gamble agreed there’s adequate proof Soria Sr. wrote the file and said he’ll decide later how the file can be presented.

The defense team says it would prejudice a jury and shouldn’t be allowed, but Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins says it’s proof Soria Sr. planned Krystal’s murder.

“This is substantive proof of a plan this man had to sexually assault, torture and kill a person,” he said. “This tells you that he thought about it before he did it.”

“It’s being used because it shows character. Badness,” countered defense attorney John Springgate. “There’s not an acknowledgement or an admission in this document that ‘I killed Krystal.'”

Gamble ordered the file sealed in October, citing concerns it could taint the jury pool.

Soria Sr.’s trial is scheduled to start in January and is expected to take three weeks. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if he is convicted.

One of the witnesses will be Soria Jr. The younger man told investigators he lured Krystal to the family’s apartment and later disposed of her body.