Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Krystal Dawn Steadman

Betrayal

Thomas Soria Sr. was bound over for trial in Douglas District Court after waiving his preliminary hearing on April 26, 2000, stemming from the 1999 sexual assault case. During the same hearing, prosecutors dropped aiding and abetting charges against T.J. Soria for his involvement in the 1999 case. Prosecutors said they could not substantiate allegations that the younger man conspired with his father to assault the girl. "There was no evidence against Thomas Soria Jr.," Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins announced to reporters from the Nevada Appeal, following the dismissal.

On May 9, 2000, T.J. Soria surprised everyone at his father's preliminary hearing when he announced his decision to accept a plea bargain from the district attorneys office. T.J. stood before the court and pled guilty to kidnapping and murdering Krystal Steadman. "I committed the crimes that were alleged," Soria Jr. said. "I participated in the kidnapping that led to the death of Krystal Steadman." In exchange for his plea, the Douglas County District Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss the charge of sexual assault against him and promised not to seek the death penalty. "He is pleading guilty to the things that he did," Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins later announced to reporters from the Associated Press. "And we don't think that he was eligible for the death penalty under the law." Perkins would not rule out a plea by Thomas Soria Sr., but called it highly unlikely. "We have not made a final decision on Soria Sr. but we think he is eligible for the death penalty and we will probably seek it," he said. Neither Perkins or attorneys for Soria Sr. would comment on how the son's plea would affect the case against the father, who was in court throughout the day while witnesses testified during his preliminary hearing in the Tahoe Township Justice Court. 

As a part of the plea agreement, prosecutors would be able to use a sworn statement about Steadman's death by T.J. against his father, but they agreed not to call him as a witness during the hearing. The eight witnesses who did testify talked about evidence gathered during the investigation and about what T.J. was seen doing March 19 — the day he allegedly met Steadman and the day she disappeared. Attorneys for Soria Sr. pointed out that none of the witnesses saw their client with Steadman and frequently objected to the way in which witnesses answered questions. DNA evidence allegedly linking Soria Sr. to the crimes was also presented.

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