A Kansas City, Kansas, man will spend 27 years in federal prison for his role in a triple murder in Independence in November 2012 that resulted from a drug-trafficking conspiracy.
A federal judge formally sentenced Raul Soto, 23, of Kansas City, Kansas, to 27 years in federal prison without parole for his role in the crime that occurred on Pope Avenue just over two years ago this month.
Soto had pleaded guilty in late July to one count of participating in a conspiracy to possess 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and one count of using a firearm during the drug-trafficking conspiracy resulting in the death of Antonio Hernandez.
As part of the plea agreement in July, Soto had agreed to the 27-year sentence.
Killed in the incident in addition to Antonio Hernandez, 20, were his mother, Maria Hernandez, 48, and Martin “Tomas” Dominguez-Gregorio, 33, whom police identified as Maria’s boyfriend. Maria’s then 12-year-old son also was wounded in the shooting trying to protect his mother but he survived.
Soto, also known as “Choch,” admitted that he and several co-conspirators planned to rob Dominguez-Gregorio of a large quantity of meth and $30,000, and traveled to the house on the 1500 block of Pope Avenue in Independence in the early morning hours of Nov. 16, 2012.
According to court documents, Soto, carrying a 9mm pistol, and Kevin M. Finley, a co-defendant still awaiting trial, entered a shed behind the house and bound and beat Antonio Hernandez and another occupant inside the shed. They dragged Antonio Hernandez into the house and demanded the drugs and money. After the victims denied having any drugs or money, they were shot. Soto admitted to shooting and killing Antonio Hernandez. According to court documents, Finley allegedly shot and killed the other two victims.
Soto also admitted that he and his co-conspirators took a motorcycle and a television from the house.
Nine of Soto’s 10 co-defendants have already pleaded guilty in the case, including Clayton Deardorff, 36, of Columbia, Mo.; Paula Deardorff, 32, of Kansas City, Mo.; Ryan Clayton, 31; Stephanie K. Allinder, 21; Antonio Cervantes, III, also known as “Taz,” 32; and Bobbi Jo Phillips, 37, all of Independence; Carlos Zambrano Jr., also known as “Los,” 27; Martin Medrano, 22; and Amber R. Hart, 26, all of Kansas City.
Finley, also known as “Tubbs,” 33, still faces federal charges in the conspiracy. He is charged with three counts of aiding and abetting with Soto to use a firearm in relation to a drug-trafficking crime that resulted in the three deaths. Finley was also charged with aiding and abetting Soto to discharge a firearm and injuring the 12-year-old son. Finley also is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and of assaulting another victim by pistol-whipping him in an effort to force him to disclose the locations of cash and drugs. Finley was also charged with participating in a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
Under federal statutes, the penalty for those violations is either life in federal prison without parole or the death penalty.
After the federal charges were handed down in December 2012, the state charges against the defendants that were originally filed the week after the murders were dismissed.