DNA links Soria Sr. to girl's assault

STATELINE - 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.

Both men are to appear Wednesday in Tahoe Justice Court, where their attorneys will probably discuss future proceedings. Soria Sr.'s attorney, Michael Roeser, indicated he may seek separate hearings.

Krystal 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 Krystal, was initially suspected and charged in her death. Investigators said they found human blood in his vehicle a few hours after Krystal 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 the girl'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 Krystal's case, though a final decision will not be made until the investigation is complete.

Court records say Krystal's mother contacted Soria Jr. after the girl initially disappeared and looked in his apartment but wasn't allowed to go into 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.


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