Feds take over deadly kidnapping case

June 1, 2018 GMT

The murder cases against Mariah Ferry and Chase Smothermon have been moved from state District Court to federal court where the two now face a possible death sentence if convicted.

John Soyka

A third person, Jose Torrez, also was indicted in the death of John Soyka. In state court, Torrez previously was charged with evidence tampering after he told detectives that Soyka was beaten in his garage, police said.

Prosecutors announced their indictments Thursday. The filings provide a loose outline of the allegations against Ferry, Smothermon and Torrez.

According to the documents, Torrez told Smothermon that he believed Soyka and his friend, Matthew Tressler, stole marijuana from Smothermon and Ferry’s home. Smothermon beat Soyka with a bat at Torrez’s home before moving him to another location in the trunk of Ferry’s car.

“With (Soyka) alive and screaming in her trunk, Mariah Ferry drove Chase Smothermon away from Jose Torrez’s property to another location in Albuquerque,” the indictment says.

Ferry hit Soyka with a hatchet as he lay in the trunk of her car, and then she and Smothermon dismembered and mutilated him, according to the indictment. Smothermon later invited Tressler to his home where he was bound, attacked but later freed.

The trio is accused of kidnapping resulting in death, conspiracy and kidnapping. In a news release announcing the indictments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the maximum penalty for kidnapping resulting in death is life imprisonment or death.

The move comes two months before Smothermon was set for trial in state court on murder and related charges in Soyka’s death. Ferry had been set for a trial in state District Court in August.

Smothermon’s state public defenders said in a statement Thursday that since federal authorities are involved, it is “time to stop wasting precious state resources in this persecution,” and they hope state prosecutors will step aside.

“As the defense has maintained since the beginning, the authorities have the wrong person,” the statement said. “Mr. Smotherman had no involvement in these cases. The amount of taxpayer dollars being wasted with all of these duplicative prosecutions is appalling.”

Michael Patrick, a spokesman for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Thursday afternoon that documents dismissing Smothermon’s and Ferry’s state cases were being drafted.