OTTAWA — A consortium representing federal, state and county-level defense organizations have joined forces in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case of a Putnam County man previously tried and convicted of killing his 2-year-old son.
Groups that include the Ohio Public Defender Association and its state counterparts in Florida, California, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington state have filed an Amicus brief in support of an appeal filed by Travis Soto.
The Ohio Supreme Court previously ruled that Soto could be charged with murder of his son after he had previously pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and served five years in prison for child endangering in the death of Julio Baldazo. He originally told authorities the death was the result of an ATV accident. However, after his release from prison, Soto walked into the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and admitted he had beaten the boy to death.
Former Putnam County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Basinger ruled that Soto’s guilty plea to child endangerment was not sufficient to invoke “jeopardy” as to the initial murder charge.
In a split decision, the Third District Court of Appeals reversed the common pleas court, but the Ohio Supreme ruled that Soto could be charged with murder. Soto appealed that decision, setting up the U.S. Supreme Court challenge.
According to Cleveland-based attorney Louis Grube, the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the State of Ohio for a response to Soto’s appeal. The State of Ohio, now represented by the State Solicitor General, had initially waived a response to the appeal. The state will now have until May 7 to file a brief, Grube said.