Sentencing postponed for man who pled guilty to girl's kidnapping, murder

The sentencing of Thomas Soria Jr., who pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Krystal Steadman, has been pushed back from July 5 to July 24.

"His evaluation by a psychiatrist has changed," said Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Alan Buttell. "The evaluation to determine whether this is a sexually motivated crime has been combined into one hearing and that will be July 24."

Tom Perkins, another deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said Soria Jr. will be sentenced during the hearing in late July, but the hearing will also be used to determine whether his crimes were sexually motivated.

"It's a way of saving time and dedicating resources to figure out what ought to happen to this person," he said.

Steadman was kidnapped, raped and murdered March 19. Police found her body a day later down an embankment off U.S. Highway 50 and Clear Creek Road, about two miles west of U.S. Highway 395.

Soria's father, Thomas Soria Sr. pleaded not guilty to the murder, kidnapping and sexual assault of Steadman and the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. Both girls are from South Lake Tahoe.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Soria Sr. is convicted because of "evidence of additional aggravating circumstances" that include torture, sexual abuse and the young age of the victim, according to court documents.

Judge David R. Gamble said jury selection for the first trial, when Soria Sr. will face charges of first-degree murder, will begin Jan. 17, 2001. His second trial, for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old, is set for March 26, 2001.


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