Accused killer Soria back in court Wednesday

Lawyers for a Stateline man accused of killing a 9-year-old girl will argue for dismissal of the murder charge in a hearing that starts today.

The hearing in Douglas District Court will cover several challenges and requests that have been made in the case against Thomas Robert Soria Sr., 39. He is accused of murder, kidnap and sexual assault in the death of Krystal Steadman.

Soria's son, Thomas Jr., 19, already pleaded guilty to murder and kidnapping and has been sentenced to life in prison. His plea was part of an agreement that includes testifying against his father. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty against him.

Steadman disappeared March 19 from a parking lot at the Stateline apartment complex where the Sorias lived. Her battered body was found a day later off Highway 50.

Soria Sr. has pleaded innocent and a January trial date has been set and prosecutors say they will seek death if he is convicted. But at least three hearings will be held in the coming months to sort through various challenges and requests.

Soria Sr.'s lawyers have asked District Judge Dave Gamble to throw out DNA tests used to link him to Steadman's murder. They say the evidence shouldn't have been introduced during a preliminary hearing in May that resulted in Soria Sr. being bound over for trial.

They also say prosecutors don't have enough evidence for the murder charge, arguing in a July motion that there is no evidence putting Soria Sr. at the murder scene or connecting him to the body.

The defense lawyers have asked Gamble to stop the prosecutors from seeking the death penalty, claiming that they didn't follow the correct procedure when they filed notice they would seek the penalty.

The defense team has also asked Gamble to order the prosecutors to provide evidence they've used to build their case, including 51 taped interviews with witnesses, as well as background on the DNA testing process.

Both sides have filed written arguments on the issues, and three days have been set aside for the hearing, which starts at 9 a.m.

Soria Sr. remains in jail, where he has been since his arrest.


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