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Two more plead guilty in slaying, abduction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two more defendants in an August 2017 kidnapping, homicide and mutilation case pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday.

Mariah Ferry, 21, faces between 30 and 40 years in prison after pleading to kidnapping and conspiracy. Jose Torrez, 47, is facing 14 years after pleading to conspiracy to kidnap. The two, dressed in yellow jumpsuits and flanked by attorneys, took turns standing before federal Magistrate Judge John Robbenhaar on Thursday morning.

Mariah Ferry

Their pleas come weeks after the third defendant in the case, Chase Smothermon, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy in an agreement that exposes him to between 40 and 60 years in prison.

Under their agreements with the government, charges of kidnapping resulting in death were dismissed. That crime carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment and is death penalty eligible, although the government said in May that it was not going to seek the death penalty.

According to court documents, Ferry and Smothermon were in Colorado in early August when they learned Smothermon’s Albuquerque home had been burglarized and his money and marijuana stolen. Torrez believed Matthew Tressler and John Soyka were to blame. He agreed to tell Smothermon when Soyka, who was living in his garage, returned home.

“I intended to inflict significant bodily harm and to kidnap J.S. and M.T. to teach them a lesson about stealing drugs from drug dealers, while also intending to recover my drugs and money,” Smothermon said in his plea agreement.

Smothermon admitted beating Soyka and putting him into Ferry’s car, his hands and feet bound, and driving him to another home. Ferry admitted she hit Soyka with the blunt end of an ax while he was in the trunk of the car, where he ultimately died. She also admitted she and Smothermon mutilated his body in a shed nearby.

Later in the day, Smothermon lured Tressler to his home by asking to buy drugs from him. On the stand in an earlier case, Tressler testified he was bound, beaten with a bat, cut with garden shears and believed he was going to be killed. He said he was also shown images of Soyka’s sexually mutilated body, which was ultimately buried in a shallow grave near the Rio Puerco. Ferry admitted she took part in the torture.

Sentencing hearings have not been scheduled for any of the three defendants.

John Soyka

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