SUSPECT in Sacramento slayings charged with seven counts of first-degree murder

Wednesday, September 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The Ukrainian immigrant who sparked a nationwide manhunt after allegedly killing his pregnant wife and five other relatives has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder.

Nikolay Soltys, 27, kept his head down Tuesday as Judge Patrick Marlette read the charges. He didn't enter a plea.

One of the counts was for the fetus. Lyubov Soltys was three-months pregnant when she was killed. District Attorney Jan Scully said she could file the charge as long as the fetus was at least 7 weeks.

``Baby Soltys is the seventh victim. It's appropriate that he be charged for all victims,'' Scully said.

Soltys was arrested Thursday while hiding in his mother's back yard.

The search for Soltys began Aug. 20, when he allegedly slashed his wife's throat, then killed his aunt and uncle and their two 9-year-old grandchildren. Authorities say he fled with his 3-year-old son, who was found dead one day later in a cardboard box on a trash heap.

Soltys allegedly told detectives he killed his relatives because they were ``poisoning'' him _ perhaps meaning they were ruining his reputation.

Soltys' attorney, Tommy Clinkenbeard, said he was investigating his client's background, studying Soltys' mental state and was ``keeping all our options open.''

He said he was considering an insanity plea or asking the court to suppress any confession Soltys made to investigators because he did not have an attorney present during police interviews.

``I'm not happy about being deprived access to my client for two days,'' Clinkenbeard said. ``Normally, in cases like this, we have access even before the court appoints a lawyer.''

The ``whole criminal justice system in our country is total foreign concept'' to Soltys, Clinkenbeard said. Soltys was being held in the psychiatric ward of the jail.

Scully said the amount of pretrial publicity makes changing the location of the trial ``an obvious possibility,'' but said she would argue to keep the trial in Sacramento. She said she hadn't decided to seek the death penalty.

Police found a backpack and sleeping bag near Soltys when he was captured. Inside the pack was a 10-inch knife police believe he used in the killings.

In a note Soltys left in his abandoned vehicle, investigators said he explained that he killed the cousins to punish their parents for speaking out against him. He offered no explanation for the death of his son.