Man declared dead 20 years ago but re-appears to murder his girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter leaving a bloody scene
Gory details were revealed in court about a man presumed dead who murdered a woman and her daughter while on a road trip. The lawyer for that Mississippi man who was declared dead two decades ago, only to resurface as a murder suspect, does not deny that her client killed his girlfriend and her daughter, but claims he’s being tried in the wrong court.
In opening statements on Wednesday, attorney Cristie Gibbens said it was improper to charge Thomas Steven Sanders in federal court for the 2010 slaying of 12-year-old Lexis Roberts. She said prosecutors lack evidence to prove that Sanders committed a federal crime, rather than a crime that should be addressed in local courts. Otherwise, she said: ‘We agree with the government on almost all of the facts.’ Gibbens said Sanders ‘accepts full responsibility for the death of Lexis Roberts’.
Sanders was identified as a suspect long after he was thought dead. Sanders had left his family in Mississippi in 1987, and his relatives and ex-wife had him declared dead in 1994 after he had been missing for years. Sanders is charged with two crimes: kidnapping resulting in death and using a firearm in a crime of violence that caused a person’s death.
Flanagan said Sanders met Suellen Roberts while working and living at a storage facility in Las Vegas. Within a few months, they started dating and planned the Labor Day weekend trip that would end with both mother and daughter shot and killed, the prosecutor said.
After visiting a wildlife refuge known as Bearizona and stopping at the Grand Canyon, the trio pulled into a remote stretch of desert off an interstate so Suellen Roberts could shoot Sanders’ .22-caliber rifle, Flanagan said. Instead, Sanders shot the mother in the head while her daughter sat on a blanket nearby, Flanagan said. Sanders left the body where it fell and drove Lexis Roberts over several days to northeast Louisiana, where he shot her three times in the head and once in the chest, the prosecutor said.
‘Lexis Roberts still had not died, and so he took his knife and he cut her throat,’ Flanagan told jurors. FBI agent Glen Kelly said Sanders confessed to the child’s death after being arrested in Gulfport, Mississippi, while still in possession of Suellen Roberts’ car.
‘He said something to the effect of, ”I’m surprised it took you so long to find me”,’ Kelly testified.
I’m not shocked such a cold statement would come out of the mouth of a man who could perform such cold acts on women.