In 2006, Travis Soto pleaded guilty to child endangerment for accidentally running over his two-year-old son with an ATV. He served 5 years in prison before being released in 2016.
Soto would later walk into the police station to admit he had beaten his son to death.
Double Jeopardy Is Not in Play
Double jeopardy is “the act of putting someone on trial twice for the same crime.” Although Soto served five years for a crime relating to his involvement in his son’s death, the Ohio Court determined that he could still be convicted of aggravated murder without violating the double jeopardy statute.
Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers said, “As a result of [Soto’s] statements, we decided to pursue additional charges which gave rise to five new counts of which they challenged and appealed whether that was appropriate to proceed on those charges.”
Justice Pat DeWine indicated that child endangerment and homicide are very different and therefore double jeopardy does not apply. He mentioned that double jeopardy is only related to the charge of child endangerment and that a conviction of manslaughter could still be pursued.
Attorneys Say Soto’s Stories Can’t Be Trusted
Soto’s attorney Carly Edelstein stated that his client’s most recent account of the events surrounding his son’s death was the third different version he has told. Edelstein believes that Soto’s stories cannot be trusted as 100% accurate.
However, Putnam County prosecutor pointed out that according to the autopsy, Soto was the only one present during the incident and, therefore, he is the only witness to the events.
“There are no third-party witnesses that we are aware of, but we have physical evidence and his statements and that is what we are building our case around,” Lammers said.
Soto Could Face the Death Penalty
Soto appeared before the Putnam County Common Pleas Court on November 25 in order to get some paperwork in order along with attending to some “housekeeping” matters. Judge Schierloh scheduled a pretrial date for Thursday, Dec. 19 at 12:30 p.m. as the next step in the process.
Although Soto is looking at a minimum of 15 years in prison, Lammers mentioned that the state of Ohio is looking at pursuing the death penalty since the victim was under the age of 13. Soto’s current charges are aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, kidnapping, and tampering with evidence.