Public defender will be ready to try robbery case in 2 weeks - but he's not happy about it

Cary Ashby • Feb 12, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Huron County Public Defender David Longo again made his case in court about having to take a first-degree felony case to trial in about two weeks.

The trial for Randy Soto, 21, formerly of 23B Newton St., is scheduled for Feb. 26. He is charged with one count of aggravated robbery in connection with a Nov. 18 incident at a Newton Terrace apartment.

"I'll try this case in two weeks," Longo said, but he stressed he's unsure how effective he will be.

The main issue Longo brought to Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway's attention was the timing of the case.

Soto was arraigned last week. His case, which originally went through Norwalk Municipal Court, was transferred to common pleas court Dec. 7.

Longo said the case wasn't transferred to a grand jury in time for the December session and the grand jurors apparently weren't ready to indict Soto the next month. A grand jury indicted the defendant Feb. 1.

From what Longo heard, he said the grand jurors were "a hair's breath" from declining to indict his client.

Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff, in response, said one of the issues that hung up the grand jury proceedings is one victim is a suspected drug dealer who hasn't been indicted.

Nobody was injured during the incident investigated by Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Seth Fry.

Soto is accused of brandishing a gun to commit the suspected offense. If convicted, he will have three years added to his sentence, which ranges from three to 11 years in prison.

Longo, who received evidence Monday morning, said he's talked to Soto, who doesn't want to waive his right to a speedy trial. He is waiting for the court report to transcribe the preliminary hearing held in municipal court. Longo said he spoke to the Ohio public defender, who told him he can't turn down the case.

Longo told Conway the case became more complicated when he found out new information. Citing municipal court testimony, Longo accused some of the victims of lying to police -- allegations that concerned Woodruff, the prosecuting attorney.

"I'm on the case, but it's just two weeks," said Longo, who also said he would be as prepared as possible.

"The state could be prepared by then," Woodruff said earlier in the hearing.

Attorneys expect Soto's trial to last two or three days. Woodruff said there will be no "scientific evidence" presented and the state's witnesses include the three victims and some police officers.

Soto, who was arrested in early December, must post a $50,000 bond before being released from the Huron County Jail. He is prohibited from having any contact with the three victims -- one of whom he reportedly knows.

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