OTTAWA — Despite a recent alleged confession, a Napoleon man will not be tried for murder.
Ohio’s 3rd District Court of Appeals has approved Travis Soto’s double jeopardy appeal.
In 2006 Soto entered into a plea deal with the Putnam County prosecutor, pleading guilty to child endangering for the all-terrain vehicle death of his 2-year-old son, Julio Baldazo. In exchange, the involuntary manslaughter charge he was also facing was dropped. Soto served five years for child endangering.
Soto appeared in the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in July 2016 and allegedly confessed to beating his son to death and staging the killing to look like an ATV accident, according to court case files. In August 2016, a Putnam County Grand Jury indicted Soto on charges including aggravated murder, an unclassified felony, murder, an unclassified felony, felonious assault, a felony of the first degree, kidnapping, a felony of the first degree and tampering with evidence, a felony of the third degree.
A motion to dismiss on the grounds of double jeopardy was filed by Soto in October 2016. According to the appellate document, Soto’s attorney contended court transcripts on the 2006 plea did not state whether the involuntary manslaughter charges were dismissed with, or without, prejudice and that charge was a lesser charge of murder and aggravated murder. Soto challenged that double jeopardy applied to those charges because the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter had been dismissed as part of the plea.
The court denied the motion to dismiss, contending because Soto’s plea confession was allegedly a false narrative of what happened to Julio Baldazo, he couldn’t reasonably expect to not face homicide charges based on a true confession later. In April 2017, the court denied Soto’s motion to dismiss stating the new charges had required proof that wasn’t required for the 2006 child endangering and involuntary manslaughter charges.
Soto appealed the ruling on grounds the involuntary manslaughter charge was indeed a lesser version of murder and aggravated murder and, therefore, his the dismissal of the original charge should prevent him from being tried for greater charges related to manslaughter, according to court documents.
The appellate court reversed the judgment of the trial court and the case was remanded back to the Putnam County Court of Common Pleas for further proceedings.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Putnam County Common Pleas Court.
Putnam County Prosecutor Gary Lammers did not respond to phone calls and a message left with his office.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362