OTTAWA – Travis Soto, charged with aggravated murder and several other counts in the 2006 death of his young son, will stand trial in Putnam County Common Pleas Court beginning March 29 of next year.
Soto, 34, of Napoleon, appeared in court briefly on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing that took place mostly behind closed doors and consisted mainly of setting the trial dates.
Soto’s case was returned to the local court after the U.S. Supreme Court this summer declined to hear the case after appeals had overturned his previous conviction.
Soto told the police in 2006 he had accidentally killed his young son, Julio, in an all-terrain vehicle accident. He eventually pleaded guilty to child endangering and served a five-year prison sentence. In 2016, several years after the completion of his sentence, Soto confessed that he had actually beaten his son to death and had staged the ATV accident.
He was indicted for aggravated murder and other offenses, but his attorneys filed a motion to dismiss all counts on double-jeopardy grounds, which prevents someone from being tried for the same crime twice. The trial court denied Soto’s motion and he appealed that decision to the Third District Court of Appeals, which agreed with the defendant that a subsequent prosecution should be barred on double-jeopardy grounds. But in a 6-1 opinion, the Supreme Court of Ohio reversed the appeals court, holding that because the involuntary-manslaughter charge was dismissed as part of a plea bargain before a jury was empaneled, jeopardy never attached to that charge.
Soto’s attorneys were pinning their hopes on a reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court’s decision this summer not to hear the case sent the matter back to the Putnam County courtroom of Judge Keith Schierloh.