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Death penalty more likely in Independence triple slaying

Updated: 2013-02-25T06:57:31Z

By MARK MORRIS

The Kansas City Star

Prosecutors have taken another step that would be critical if they choose to seek the death penalty against two suspects in an Independence triple homicide last fall.

In a new indictment filed Wednesday against Kevin M. Finley and Raul Soto, prosecutors laid out special findings that would be necessary should U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder choose to seek death penalties.

A federal grand jury charged Finley, 33, Soto, 22, and nine others in December for their alleged roles in the deaths the month before of Maria Hernandez, her boyfriend, Tomas Dominguez, and her son, Antonio Hernandez, during a home invasion at 1505 S. Pope Ave.

Finley and Soto each face three death-penalty-eligible charges of using a firearm in a drug trafficking crime that results in death.

The new special findings filed last week — aggravating factors that a jury would have to establish — include allegations that Finley intentionally killed Hernandez in front of her children and that Soto killed Hernandez while he was bound and gagged.

Defense lawyers recently asked for permission to hire investigators to help study their clients and develop arguments that the death penalty is inappropriate.

Top Justice Department officials in Washington review all cases in which a death sentence is possible. Officials there can approve seeking a death sentence, decline it or even order a local prosecutor to ask jurors for a death sentence.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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