The father and son accused in the slaying of 9-year-old Krystal Steadman are scheduled to appear in court today at 10 a.m. for a preliminary hearing which could last as long as four days.
Thomas Soria Sr. and his son, Thomas Soria Jr., are charged with kidnapping, raping, and killing the South Lake Tahoe child March 19. Both could face the death penalty if convicted.
At the end of the hearing in the Tahoe Justice Township Court, Judge Steve McMorris will decide if there is enough evidence against the two men for them to stand trial. A trial would take place in Minden, before which the two men would be given the opportunity to enter a plea.
The Sorias have made no statements in court and their attorneys have said little about the case except that they will defend their clients in the courtroom, rather than in the media.
Steadman disappeared from a Stateline apartment complex where the two men lived, shortly after witnesses said they saw her playing with 19-year-old Soria Jr., who worked their for the Boys and Girls Club of South Lake Tahoe.
Soria Jr. had been giving Steadman and two other girls rides on the running board of his father's red and white Chevy Blazer.
Her small body was found the next day at the side of U.S. Highway 50 two miles west of Carson City - she was naked, her throat was slashed and an autopsy indicated that she had been raped.
Soria Jr. was arrested later that day after a woman told investigators she saw a man driving a vehicle similar to his throw something that looked like a pillow case off the side of the highway the night Steadman disappeared.
That information led investigators to the girl's body and to Soria Jr., whom they already suspected.
The father was arrested eight days later in connection to a another sexual assault involving a 15-year-old girl, and was charged with Steadman's murder after her clothes were found five miles from where her body was dumped. Investigators allegedly found semen belonging to Soria Sr. on the girl's clothing.
The elder Soria has been charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl who also lives in the Lake Park Apartments on Kahle Drive. Soria waived his right to a preliminary hearing on that charge and will be arraigned in Douglas County District Court June 6.