'Legally Dead' Man Accused of Murder Faces New Charges

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For a dead man, Thomas Steven Sanders has had a very busy 17 years.

Sanders, declared dead in 1994, was arrested in November and accused of kidnapping and murdering a Las Vegas woman and her 12-year-old daughter.

Today, Sanders was arraigned again in connection with other crimes. A grand jury has returned a new indictment, which remains sealed, charging Sanders with use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime and kidnapping.

Sanders has been in a Louisiana federal prison since November awaiting trial for the murder of middle school student Lexis Roberts of Las Vegas. Roberts' body was found last October by hunters in Louisiana.

Authorities said she had been shot.

Sanders pleaded not guilty to the murder charge in November and again pleaded not guilty at today's arraignment on the gun charge.

The disappearance of Lexis and her mother, Suellen Roberts, last year set off a nationwide manhunt. The investigation took a strange turn when authorities discovered the prime suspect was declared legally dead in 1994.

Suellen Roberts' remains were discovered and identified in December in the Arizona desert. Authorities there have been cooperating with the federal investigation in Louisiana, but won't be able to indict Sanders until the federal trial ends.

Sanders also faces a state murder rap in Louisiana.

Sanders, a Mississippi resident, was declared legally dead by a court in that state after he abandoned his family in 1987.

He lived under the radar for 15 year despite several arrests during that time.

Sanders's Criminal Past

According to authorities, Sanders lived in several states, including Georgia and Tennessee, before moving west to Las Vegas. He worked odd jobs as a welder and scrap metal collector.

He was arrested several times, according to public records.

In 1994, the same year he was declared dead, he was sentenced to two years of probation in Georgia on a child cruelty charge. He was accused of hitting a boy and forcing a pair of dirty underwear into the child's face.

In 2002, he was arrested for driving with a suspended Tennessee drivers license and he was picked up again in 2004 for possession of drug paraphernalia.

Living under his real name, but often going by the nickname Spider, he moved to Nevada, where he met Roberts and began dating her for several months, according to court documents. Over Labor Day weekend, Sanders took Roberts and Lexis a road trip to Wlliams and Flagstaff, Ariz., and the Grand Canyon.

Given the kidnapping and murder charges, prosecutors said Sanders could face the capital punishment, but the U.S. attorney has yet to announce whether the government will seek the death penalty.

Calls to Sanders' lawyer, federal public defender Rebecca Hudsmith, were not rerturned.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.