Trial begins for man accused of kidnapping murder - Tucson News Now

Trial begins for man accused of kidnapping murder

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By MELINDA DESLATTE
Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Trial has started for a Mississippi man who was declared dead two decades ago, only to resurface as a suspect in the deaths of his girlfriend and her daughter.

Thomas Steven Sanders is accused of murdering 12-year-old Lexis Roberts and dumping her body in Catahoula Parish in September 2010.

In opening statements Wednesday, Sanders' lawyer Cristie Gibbens didn't dispute that Sanders killed the child, but she said it was improper to charge Sanders in federal court.

Prosecutor Bill Flanagan said Sanders shot the girl's mother, Suellen Roberts, on a trip they all took to a wildlife park near the Grand Canyon, then took Lexis Roberts to Louisiana, where he shot her four times and cut her throat.

Gibbens described it as a "vacation that went terribly, horribly, sadly wrong."

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