Thomas murder preliminary hearing scheduled for today

Posted: Friday, February 04, 2000

JUNEAU - A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 3 p.m. today in the beating death of Kenneth Thomas, 36.

In an armed robbery gone bad, Thomas sustained serious head injuries outside a Willoughby Avenue residence Jan. 25. Police arrested Ronald Edward Smith, 33, and Rey Joel Soto, 20, that same day, charging them with two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of robbery.

After Thomas died at Providence Alaska Medical Hospital on Jan. 26, the district attorney's office amended the charges against Smith and Soto to second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. The two are being held in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center pending further legal action.

Lt. Walt Boman of the Juneau Police Department is coordinating the investigation.

``We are continuing to work,'' Boman said this morning. ``I don't think anything significant has changed over the last few days. (Murder cases) are always complicated, but hopefully things will start to come together.''

In a town the size of Juneau, Boman added, ``lots of people think they have information'' related to the case. Police are following up all leads, preparing for a preliminary hearing and possible grand jury hearing, he said.

Prosecuting attorney Sue McLean could not be reached for comment.

Boman had not yet seen the coroner's report from Anchorage stating the precise cause of death. The medical examiner would not discuss his report.

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