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Security tight for murderer sentencing

Christy Chalmers, staff writer

Security is tight at the Douglas County courthouse as Monday’s sentencing date for a man who kidnaped and murdered a 9-year-old girl approaches.

Officers have been scanning every visitor, including county employees, for the past week and a second scanner will be set up outside District Judge Dave Gamble’s court room, where a penalty for Thomas Soria Jr., 19, will be decided.

Soria Jr. pleaded guilty in May to kidnap and murder in the death of Krystal Steadman. His father, Thomas Soria Sr., is to be tried on murder, kidnap and sexual assault charges in January.

A hearing to determine whether Soria Jr.’s crimes were sexually motivated will be held with the sentencing hearing. A determination on sexual motivation won’t affect the possible sentence but could label Soria Jr. as a sex offender.

Soria Jr. faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole on the murder charge. He could also be granted the possibility of parole after 20 years.

Gamble could also impose a fixed term of 50 years with parole after 20.

The kidnapping charge carries possible sentences of life in prison with parole after five years or 15 years with parole after five.

The hearing is expected to take all of Monday. If necessary, it will resume Tuesday afternoon.

Steadman disappeared March 19 from the parking lot of the Lake Park Apartments in Stateline, where Soria and his father lived. Steadman, who lived in South Lake Tahoe, had been visiting the complex with her mother and had been seen playing with Soria Jr. before she disappeared.

Her body was found a day later off Highway 50 near Carson City. Soria Jr. was arrested soon after, and his father was picked up a week later in a separate case, then charged in Steadman’s death.