No Post Conviction Help

Unrelated Witness Misconduct no Help to Convicted Shooter

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Luis M. Soto (“Soto”) appealed pro se from the order dismissing his second petition for relief filed pursuant to the Post Conviction Relief Act (“PCRA”).

In Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania v. Luis M. Soto, Nos. 831 EDA 2023, 832 EDA 2023, 833 EDA 2023, 834 EDA 2023, No. J-S04035-24, Superior Court of Pennsylvania (May 14, 2024) the appellate court gave consideration to all the pro se claims only to see them quashed.


In 2013, Soto discharged a firearm into a large crowd of people in Philadelphia, killing one person and injuring three others, including Larry Robinson. Madeline Soberal, a witness to the shooting, was initially reluctant to speak with police, but after interacting with Officer Carmen Sanchez, identified Soto as the shooter from a photo array. The matter proceeded to a consolidated jury trial at which Soberal testified that she was a few feet away from Soto when he pulled out a firearm and began shooting into the crowd. Officer Sanchez testified that Soberal feared for her safety if she provided a statement to police and had to be convinced that police would ensure her safety if she agreed to provide testimony against Soto.

After Soto was convicted, in May 2022, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office sent correspondence to Soto that revealed that each of the officers who testified with regard to his trial and conviction had been involved in various forms of misconduct unrelated to Soto’s criminal case. For example, Officer Sanchez received a fifteen-day suspension after being found guilty of insurance fraud, Officer Cartegena was disciplined for using excessive force in an unrelated criminal matter, and Detective Crone was disciplined for both a domestic violence incident and for authoring a racially offensive letter. None of the  misconduct had anything to do with the shooting.

Soto claimed that he was entitled to a new trial on the basis that, “had the jury been aware of the officers’ history of, and propensity for misconduct at the time of his trial, the outcome would have been different.”

The PCRA court entered an order dismissing the petition. The appellate court reviews an order dismissing a petition under the PCRA in the light most favorable to the prevailing party at the PCRA level.


The PCRA court concluded that Soto’s claims lacked merit. The PCRA court observed that the evidence of misconduct by the officers was completely unrelated to Soto’s criminal case. The appellate court concluded that the PCRA court’s determination, that the after-discovered evidence presented by Soto had no other use than to impeach the credibility of the officers’ testimony at trial, is supported by the record and free of legal error.

In his PCRA petition, Soto identified only one witness who would testify at an evidentiary hearing, that is, Assistant District Attorney Shoshana Silverstein, to confirm that she provided Soto with the police misconduct disclosure packet that is the basis for his claims.

No witnesses at trial claimed that they were coerced by police, and the only evidence offered by Soto to the contrary was the isolated instances of unrelated police misconduct included in the police disclosure packet. Soto’s claims were entirely speculative.

The Superior Court concluded that the PCRA court’s decision to deny Soto’s request for leave to amend his petition is supported by the record and free from legal error. Soto’s issues merits no relief.


The essence of this case is that Soto must stay in jail. The fact that one of the officers who testified against Soto was convicted of Insurance Fraud and other officers were disciplined for unrelated issues had no bearing on the fact that Soto shot many bullets into a group of people and killed someone did not change and he was not entitled to post conviction relief.

(c) 2024 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.

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About Barry Zalma

An insurance coverage and claims handling author, consultant and expert witness with more than 48 years of practical and court room experience.
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