Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2018

Currently: 70° — Complete forecast

Father, son charged in child’s murder have violent family history

STATELINE, Nev. - A father and son accused of murdering a 9-year-old girl come from a family with a violent history.

The father, Thomas Soria Sr., 39, found his mother's body after she was sexually assaulted and murdered by his stepbrother in 1979. An uncle shot up a North Sacramento bar in 1982, killing three and wounding nine.

Soria was arrested March 27 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and murder of Krystal Steadman of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., whose body was found dumped off Highway 50 near Carson City on March 20.

Soria's son, Thomas Robert Soria Jr., 19, also is charged with the Steadman slaying, and both men are accused in an October sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl.

A preliminary hearing on the Steadman case is set May 9 at Tahoe Township Justice Court. Both were being held without bail in the Douglas County jail.

Legal experts said the elder Soria's family history could be used by defense attorneys to build sympathy, particularly if proceedings reach the death-penalty stage.

However, Michael S. Sands, one of Sacramento's leading criminal defense attorneys, said such defenses often pale in comparison with the crime at issue, particularly the death of a child.

The Sorias moved from Sacramento to Tahoe in January 1999.

Thomas Soria's first brush with violence came 31 years ago when he was in grade school, according to court records.

His stepbrother, Ronny Mozingo, was sent to juvenile hall at age 10, but came home to live in 1969, at age 12. He was there just two weeks because he twice molested his 8-year-old stepbrother, then known as Tommy, court records say.

Ten years later, Thomas Soria Sr., then 18, discovered his mother's body on Sept. 25, 1979, as he returned home from a college class.

Ronny Mozingo was sentenced to death for the woman's murder, but won a new trial. He eventually pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and is serving a 28-year prison sentence.

"Mr. Soria says that he still has nightmares of finding his mother," a prosecutor said as Mozingo was sentenced.

In 1982, Mozingo's uncle, Douglas Mozingo, 29, was asked to leave a bar in North Sacramento. He returned with a semiautomatic rifle and opened fire from the doorway, killing or wounding a dozen occupants.

While awaiting trial he escaped from jail but was quickly captured. He hanged himself in his cell.