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Thread: Thomas Steven Sanders - Federal Death Row

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    Thomas Steven Sanders - Federal Death Row


    Lexis K. Roberts


    Suellen Roberts




    Suspect in slaying of 12-year-old daughter led police to remains, relative says

    A relative of slain 12-year-old Lexis Roberts of Las Vegas says the suspect in her death appears to have led police to the body of her mother, found Monday in northwest Arizona.

    Authorities found remains believed to be those of 31-year-old Suellen Roberts near Seligman, Ariz., about 40 miles from the amusement park she and Lexis planned to visit with boyfriend Thomas Steven "Spider" Sanders, who was arrested Sunday in Mississippi.

    Lexis' body was found Oct. 8 by hunters in the woods of central Louisiana.

    "There is some closure in that they no longer are missing," said Lexis' great-uncle Kenneth Cloutier, reached Monday in New Hampshire.

    Cloutier was told by an Arizona law enforcement official that Sanders had cooperated with the FBI and provided information on where to find Roberts' body.

    Authorities believe the body found is Roberts' because the clothing matches a description of what she was wearing when last seen, Cloutier said.

    Sanders had an initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Miss., on a federal kidnapping charge and waived his rights to hearings there, said Melanie Rube, a deputy U.S. Marshal.

    Sheila Thorne, a special agent with the FBI in New Orleans, said Sanders was then extradited to Louisiana. Thorne declined to provide additional details because the case is ongoing.

    Sanders was driving Roberts' 2001 Kia Spectra when he was apprehended.

    Sanders, who was declared legally dead 16 years ago, was targeted in a nationwide manhunt after the mother and daughter were reported missing after Labor Day weekend. The FBI has coordinated the investigation, which involves multiple law enforcement agencies and four states.

    In Nevada, Sanders, 53, met Roberts and her daughter a few months ago at a storage facility in Las Vegas where she kept some possessions and where Sanders worked, said Roberts' mother, Mary Woodburn.

    Roberts and Lexis were last seen in September in Arizona with Sanders. Yavapai County Sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said investigators found the remains thought to be Roberts' about a mile southwest of a remote mountainous area along Interstate 40.

    "The detectives have stated there's evidence that indicates it's very, very likely it's Suellen," D'Evelyn said.

    An autopsy will be performed within 24 hours to confirm the deceased woman's identity, he said.

    Much of Sanders' past is a mystery after he walked out on his family in McComb, Miss., in 1987. He drifted from state to state and didn't buy property or establish many bills in his name -- things that create a paper trail for most people, authorities said.

    His wife, Candice Sanders, divorced him in 1988 for alleged "habitual, cruel and inhuman treatment."

    In 1994, Sanders' parents, brother and ex-wife petitioned a Mississippi court to have him declared dead.

    Authorities said Sanders has lived in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Nevada. He worked as a laborer, a welder and a scrap metal collector.

    He was arrested several times, on charges including possession of drug paraphernalia and for several traffic and motor vehicle violations in Tennessee, according to authorities. He also was sentenced to two years in Georgia for simple battery. State and federal authorities have said some of the charges involved minors, but they haven't elaborated.

    There doesn't appear to be any jurisdictional squabbling between agencies over prosecution of the current case. According to Nevada law, Clark County prosecutors could have made an argument for jurisdiction because Sanders' alleged crime spree originated in Las Vegas.

    Clark County District Attorney David Roger indicated Monday that Southern Nevada law enforcement will cooperate with authorities from Louisiana's Catahoula Parish as they prosecute the case "because that's where (Lexis') body was found."

    If the body found in Arizona is Roberts', Yavapai County prosecutors would then handle the case involving her death.

    Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona and Nevada all use the death penalty as a form of punishment in murder cases.

    Lexis' remains show she had been shot several times. Officials said security cameras captured Sanders buying ammunition Sept. 3 at a Walmart in Las Vegas. The bullets he bought were consistent with those from the weapon used to kill Lexis, police said.

    Bob Lowery, executive director of the missing children's division with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, based in Alexandria, Va., said about 2,000 children are reported missing each day. About 58,000 cases each year involve a child who is abducted by someone who is not a relative, he said.

    Only a small number of cases involving missing children end in death. But in a significant number of those cases, the perpetrator is romantically linked to a parent.

    "One of the leading causes of death of children is the boyfriend of the mother," Lowery said.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/body-may-be...108370949.html

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    Grand jury indicts 'dead' man on kidnapping charge

    JACKSON, Miss. -- A federal grand jury has indicted a Mississippi man who was declared dead in 1994 in the kidnapping of a 12-year-old Las Vegas girl whose skeletal remains were found last month in central Louisiana.

    Thomas Steven Sanders is scheduled to face a federal magistrate Friday at a detention hearing in Alexandria, La., on the kidnapping charge.

    Stephanie A. Finley, a U.S. Attorney in Louisiana, said in a news release that Sanders could face the death penalty if convicted of the kidnapping that resulted in the death of 12-year-old Lexis Roberts.

    Sanders also is suspected in the disappearance and likely death of the girl's mother, 31-year-old Suellen Roberts. Arizona authorities believe they found the mother's body Monday, but are trying to make a positive identification.

    http://www.sunherald.com/2010/11/18/...#ixzz15fqWEmFi

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    Sanders pleads not guilty in abduction of girl found dead in Catahoula Parish

    Thomas Steven Sanders pleaded not guilty this morning, Nov. 19, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria to kidnapping 12-year-old Lexis Roberts, whose remains were found near Harrisonburg in Catahoula Parish last month.

    Sanders, 53, was shackled and in an orange Rapides Parish prison outfit and accompanied by his attorney Rebecca Hudsmith, a federal public defender.

    At the arraignment, Sanders also pleaded not guilty to one count of forfeiture, which if he’s found guilty would require Sanders to give up the weapon and ammunition used in the crime.

    A federal grand jury indicted Sanders on Thursday.

    Magistrate Judge James D. Kirk told Sanders that the maximum penalty for the kidnapping charge is life in prison.

    Sanders had no comment as he left the courthouse in downtown Alexandria. He will stay in the custody of U.S. marshals. Sanders did not contest being held.

    Lexis, of Las Vegas, was seen with Sanders and Suellen Roberts, Lexis’ mother, in Arizona in September, where a video at a Walmart recorded Sanders buying ammunition.

    Lexis Roberts’ remains were found Oct. 8, where her body had lain for about a month, said investigators, who also said Lexis had been shot.

    Catahoula Sheriff James Kelly on Friday declined to say how many times Lexis was shot.

    Kelly said Sanders will face a murder charge in state court. He said a grand jury has not yet been convened to consider an indictment.

    Kelly said he’s not yet talked to Sanders.

    “There are a lot of questions I have for him,” Kelly said.

    http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/2...tahoula-Parish

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    Remains found in Arizona are of missing mother

    The remains of a woman found in Arizona last month were confirmed Tuesday as 31-year-old Suellen Roberts, authorities said.

    The Yavapai County sheriff's office said Roberts' family in Las Vegas has been notified.

    Roberts' body was found near Seligman, Ariz., about 40 miles from the amusement park she and 12-year-old daughter Lexis Roberts planned to visit with Suellen Roberts' boyfriend, Thomas Steven "Spider" Sanders, who was arrested in Mississippi last month.

    Lexis' body was found Oct. 8 by hunters in the woods of central Louisiana.

    Relatives of Roberts told the Review-Journal that Sanders had cooperated with FBI after his arrest on Nov. 14 and provided information on where to find Roberts' body.

    Sanders is facing a federal kidnapping charge related to Lexis' disappearance. If convicted, Sanders could face life in prison or the death penalty, authorities said.

    Authorities in Louisiana said Sanders will be charged with murder in state court when the federal government finishes processing him.

    Sanders, who was declared legally dead 16 years ago, was targeted in a nationwide manhunt after the mother and daughter were reported missing after Labor Day weekend.

    The FBI coordinated the investigation, which involved multiple law enforcement agencies and four states.

    http://www.lvrj.com/news/remains-fou...112254009.html

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    Slaying suspect Sanders pleads not guilty

    Thomas Steven Sanders pleaded not guilty today, Feb. 11, to enhanced federal charges of kidnapping and using a firearm to kill 12-year-old Lexis Roberts of Las Vegas and dumping her body in the woods of Catahoula Parish.

    Sanders faces the death penalty if found guilty of either of two charges spelled out in superseding indictment handed down by a Shreveport grand jury in January.

    The Mississippi native was indicted the 1st time on Nov. 14 on one charge of kidnapping Lexis, whose body was dumped about a month before hunters found her body in woods near Harrisonburg in early October.

    (Source: The Town Talk)

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    2013 kidnapping trial set for 'legally dead' man

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A 2013 trial date has been set for a legally dead Mississippi man facing federal charges in the kidnapping of a 12-year-old Las Vegas girl whose body was found last year in Louisiana.

    Thomas Steven Sanders was declared dead in Mississippi in 1994 after he abandoned his family seven years earlier. Now he's suspected in the deaths of Lexis Roberts, whose body was found Oct. 8 by hunters in Louisiana's Catahoula Parish, and her mother, 31-year-old Suellen Roberts, whose body was found the next month in northwestern Arizona's Yavapai County.

    U.S. District Judge Dee Drell set the trial date in Lexis Robert's abduction for Jan. 14, 2013, in Alexandria, La., where Sanders is charged with the girl's kidnapping. Drell set aside 25 days for the trial in an order issued Thursday.

    Sanders has pleaded not guilty. He could face the death penalty on the federal kidnapping charge because the abduction resulted in death. Arizona, Louisiana and federal officials have been working together on the case. Arizona and Louisiana authorities have said Sanders will also face state charges.

    Sanders' attorney did not immediately respond to a message Friday. A call to the U.S. attorney's office was not immediately returned.

    Sanders was arrested in Gulfport, Miss., in February after a massive manhunt. Authorities say Sanders and Suellen Roberts were in a relationship when they set out on a road trip for the Labor Day weekend. The last place the mother and daughter were seen alive was in Arizona.

    Authorities say security footage showed Sanders buying ammunition at a Walmart in Las Vegas about a month before Lexis Robert's body was found. The bullets he purchased were the same type that killed the girl, police said.

    The mother and daughter's disappearances worried authorities early on, but the case took a bizarre twist when investigators realized their prime suspect had been declared legally dead 17 years earlier.

    Sanders' parents, brother and ex-wife petitioned a Mississippi court for the death declaration in 1994, saying nobody had heard from him in seven years. Even so, Sanders drifted from state to state unnoticed despite being arrested in Georgia and Tennessee under his real name.

    http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/ne...#ixzz1UrTl4vWe

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    Suspect in Nevada girl's slaying wants 1 indictment dropped

    An attorney for Thomas "Spider" Sanders on Thursday asked a federal judge to dismiss one of the indictments that charged the Mississippi man with the murder of a 12-year-old Nevada girl, whose body was found in October 2010 in the woods of Catahoula Parish.

    Ansel "Marty" Stroud III, one of Sanders' attorneys, told U.S. District Judge Dee Drell that the second, "superceding" indictment in early 2011 had the contents of the first one but squeezed two felony charges instead of the one in the original indictment, which a Shreveport grand jury issued in late 2010.

    Stroud said the second indictment amounts to double jeopardy, with two charges that each could get Sanders the death penalty.

    "You're giving the government two bites at the apple to come back with the death penalty," Stroud said.

    Sanders sat quietly in the courtroom Thursday, sporting a full beard and quite a few more pounds than he had when he was arrested in November 2010.

    Prosecutors allege Sanders killed Lexis Roberts' mother in Arizona in late summer 2010, then kidnapped Lexis, drove her to the rural Louisiana parish of Catahoula, shot her multiple times then slit her throat. Lexis' body lay in the woods about a month before hunters found her.

    Suellen Roberts, Lexis' mother, was found dead in Arizona after Sanders was arrested in Mississippi in November 2010. The three had taken a Labor Day trip from Nevada to Arizona.

    Sanders at first was indicted on a kidnapping charge that led to Lexis Roberts' death. The indictment also contained a forfeiture count that, if he was found guilty, called for Sanders to give up the gun allegedly used to kill her.

    The second indictment contained two charges -- kidnapping and using a firearm to kill Lexis Roberts.

    Stroud and other attorneys for Sanders also said the second indictment violated provisions of the Speedy Trial Act because it was handed down more than 30 days after Sanders was arrested.

    Drell did not rule on Sanders' requests Thursday.

    Drell has given Bill Flanagan and Nicole Snyder, assistant U.S. attorneys, until July 2 to decide whether the government would seek the death penalty.

    http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/2...WS01/202170327

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    Court documents give details about killings in case of man who was declared dead, then charged

    A man who was declared dead in 1994 told investigators that a 12-year-old Las Vegas girl was in hysterics after he shot her mother in the head in 2010 and drove the child across the country before shooting her and slitting her throat, court records said.

    Thomas Steven Sanders is charged with kidnapping resulting in death related to the slaying of Lexis Roberts, whose body was found Oct. 8, 2010, by hunters in Louisianas Catahoula Parish. Her mother, 31-year-old Suellen Roberts, was found the following month in northwestern Arizona.

    Sanders was declared dead in Mississippi in 1994 after he abandoned his family seven years earlier, but he surfaced later as a suspect in the childs death. Authorities in Louisiana and Arizona are working with federal prosecutors and have said Sanders is likely to face state charges at some point.

    The details about the deaths and Sanders alleged confession were filed last week in federal court in Louisiana in dueling arguments over whether his statements to law enforcement can be presented at trial. The judge didnt immediately rule.

    Sanders has pleaded not guilty to killing the child. The trial is scheduled for Jan. 14.

    Sanders was arrested in Gulfport, Miss., in November 2010 after a massive manhunt. Authorities said Sanders and Suellen Roberts were in a relationship when they set out on a road trip for the Labor Day weekend that year.

    Sanders told authorities that the group was returning to Nevada from a park called Bearizona when he pulled off Interstate 20 to let Suellen Roberts shoot his .22 rifle. Court records said he shot the woman in the head, but didnt give a reason, and left her body there.

    Sanders told investigators that he took the little girl to the Harrisonburg, La., area and then killed her, but did not abuse or rape her, the court filings said.

    Prosecutors said he shot Lexis three times in the head and once in the chest, and finally cut her throat to make sure she was dead.

    During questioning about the childs death, court records said Sanders got very upset and started crying and said she didnt deserve that.

    Sanders attorneys didnt immediately respond to messages left Monday. In court filings, the lawyers said the confession should not be allowed at trial because he asked to talk to an attorney. Prosecutors, however, said Sanders only said he wanted to talk to a lawyer about a few particular questions, like why he killed the mother and child and what he was doing in Las Vegas.

    In sum, upon being arrested, defendant was properly advised of his constitutional rights, waived them, and agreed to be interviewed. It was his choice to speak or remain silent. When he spoke, he spoke voluntarily, prosecutors wrote. When he chose to remain silent by declining to answer four specific questions without first speaking to an attorney, the agents honored that choice and shifted the conversation to other topics.

    His lawyers see it differently, saying Sanders affirmatively and unequivocally stated in response to law enforcement questions that he wanted to talk to a lawyer.

    Sanders was indicted in November 2010, charged with kidnapping resulting in the childs death. A second indictment in January 2011 added the charge of using a gun in a crime resulting in death.

    Sanders attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Dee Drell to dismiss the second indictment. They claim it creates double jeopardy because both charges could result in the death penalty and arise from the same crime. The attorneys also said the second indictment, known as a superseding indictment, should be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds because it wasnt filed within 30 days of Sanders being charged.

    Drell hasnt ruled on that request.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...qsR_story.html

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    Lawyers object to recommendation

    Defense attorneys in Louisiana are objecting to a federal magistrate's recommendation to allow a jury to hear the confession of a Mississippi man declared dead in 1994 but suspected in the deaths of a Las Vegas woman and her daughter.

    Thomas Steven Sanders is charged in Louisiana with kidnapping resulting in the death of 12-year-old Lexis Roberts. Her body was found in October 2010 in Catahoula Parish, La. Her mother, Suellen Roberts, was found dead the following month in Arizona.

    Sanders' lawyers want U.S. District Judge Dee Drell to throw out Sanders' confession. Trial is scheduled for January.

    Magistrate James Kirk in Alexandria, La., has recommended Drell allow the confession.

    Sanders' lawyers filed an objection to the recommendation Wednesday. They insist Sanders asked for a lawyer and questioning should have stopped.

    Sanders was declared dead in Mississippi in 1994 after he abandoned his family seven years earlier. Despite the death certificate, Sanders was able to move about easily and undetected even though he was arrested over the years, including for drug paraphernalia and a number of traffic and motor vehicle incidents, all in Tennessee. He was sentenced to two years in jail in Georgia for simple battery.

    Sanders' attorneys have been trying to get the confession thrown out based on the argument that questioning continued after he asked for a lawyer.

    Kirk disagrees, saying that Sanders only requested a lawyer to discuss certain questions: why he killed the mother and daughter, what he had been doing while in Nevada and whether he had worked for a mattress company.

    Sanders could face the death penalty if convicted in Lexis' kidnapping and death. Authorities in Louisiana and Arizona have also said he could face state charges.

    http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/a...recommendation
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    Feds want more time to weigh death penalty

    Prosecutors want more time to decide whether to seek the death penalty for a legally dead Mississippi man charged with a kidnapping that resulted in the death of a 12-year-old Las Vegas girl whose body was found in Louisiana.

    Thomas Steven Sanders was declared dead in Mississippi in 1994. He surfaced as a suspect in the death of Lexis Roberts, whose body was found in October 2010 in Catahoula Parish, La. The body of her mother, Suellen Roberts, was found the next month in Yavapai County, Ariz.

    Sanders is charged with the childs death in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, La.

    Prosecutors have asked for a 30-day extension until Aug. 1 to decide on seeking the death penalty. The motion says defense attorneys agree with the request.

    U.S. District Judge Dee Drell has not yet ruled.

    Authorities have said in court records that Sanders confessed to killing the mother and daughter. His attorneys, however, have filed motions to prevent that information from being presented at trial. They argue Sanders asked for a lawyer, and questioning should have stopped.

    At the request of Drell, U.S. Magistrate James Kirk investigated the confession issue and in March wrote a lengthy recommendation to allow the confession at trial. Kirks recommendation contained some of the most graphic details to become public about the killing.

    According to the judges recommendation and other court documents, Sanders was living at a storage facility in Las Vegas when he met Roberts. A relationship developed and they planned to take her daughter on a trip to Bearizona, a wildlife park in Arizona near the Grand Canyon, for the Labor Day weekend in 2010.

    They spent the night in a hotel and played in the swimming pool, court records said. On their way back to Nevada, Sanders pulled over in the desert ostensibly so Suellen could shoot his .22 rifle but instead he shot her in the head, Kirk wrote in his March filing, which drew upon the confession documents.

    Sanders then loaded Lexis, who was in hysterics over seeing her mother murdered, into the car and traveled to Louisiana. He took Lexis to a wooded area and shot her in the back of the head and, when she didnt die, he shot her twice more in the head. When she still didnt die, he tried to shoot her through the heart. When she still didnt die, he cut her throat, killing her, Kirk wrote.

    Sanders attorneys have been trying to get the confession thrown out based on the argument that questioning continued after he asked for a lawyer. Kirk disagreed, saying that Sanders only requested a lawyer to discuss certain questions: why he killed the mother and daughter, what he had been doing while in Nevada and whether he had worked for a mattress company.

    Authorities in Louisiana and Arizona have said Sanders could face state charges.

    Sanders walked away from his family in Mississippi in 1987 and they didnt hear for him for years. His parents, brother and ex-wife petitioned a Pike County, Miss., court in July 1994 to have him declared dead. Despite the death certificate, Sanders was able to move about easily and undetected even though he was arrested over the years, including for drug paraphernalia and a number of traffic and motor vehicle incidents, all in Tennessee. He was sentenced to two years in jail in Georgia for simple battery.

    Hes being held without bond. His trial is scheduled for January.

    http://www.svherald.com/associatedpress/258105
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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