The Murder of Krystal Dawn Steadman
On July 24, 2000, T.J. Soria appeared before Douglas County District Judge David R. Gamble for his sentencing in the murder of Krystal Steadman. During the proceeding, Soria Jr.'s defense lawyers asked for leniency and argued that their client deserved a chance at parole someday because his father sexually abused him, creating a dysfunctional relationship that eventually led to Steadman's murder.
The defense also argued that a small amount of Soria Jr.'s semen, which was found on Steadman's underwear, did not prove that he participated in the sexual assault of Steadman. Soria Jr. reportedly told his attorneys that he masturbated in the room next to his father's bedroom and when he disposed of her body some of his semen got on her underwear.
After the defense pleaded their case, Krystal's father, sister and grandfather spoke about the loss of Krystal. At one point the grandfather read a letter written by Krystal's mother. "My life revolved around Krystal," she wrote. "She was my center, my crystal light. He took Krystal knowing she would be silenced. A child of nine kidnapped, raped and murdered — why? I have been in a state of shock and my life is in chaos."
Before he was sentenced, Soria Jr. turned and spoke to Krystal Steadman's relatives. "I have just a few things I'd like to say," he said. "I'd like to apologize to the entire family of the Steadmans and their relatives. Everyday I will hold this burden on my shoulders. It will be on my conscience the rest of my life. It was a very big mistake to say the least. I realize that I will never be forgiven for what I've done."
When T.J. returned to his seat Judge Gamble addressed the courtroom. "The issue of Mr. Soria's upbringing is an important one in this case," Judge Gamble said. "So we have a young man at the age of 19 with certainly a skewed set of values, but Mr. Soria knew full well the rightness and wrongness of his acts." Judge Gamble then sentenced T.J. Soria to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sighs of relief and "Yes" could be heard coming from Krystal's relatives seated in the second row of the courtroom.
Two hours after he was sentenced, authorities took Thomas Robert Soria Jr. to his new home at Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City, Nevada to begin his reception process. T.J. remained at the correctional center until August 8, 2000, when he was transferred to the maximum-security Ely State Prison. Authorities announced that no special precautions would be taken to protect T.J., but they did assure reporters from the Las Vegas Review Journal that the prison did have procedural precautions in place.