Man who laughed as girlfriend burned toddler with cigarette loses appeal, will spend up to six years behind bars

27-year-old Enrique Soto lost had his appeal for a shorter sentence rejected by a state appeals court and will have to spend 3-6 years behind bars.


                            Man who laughed as girlfriend burned toddler with cigarette loses appeal, will spend up to six years behind bars

A Pennsylvania man who admitted to laughing and watching as his girlfriend burned her 19-month-old son with a cigarette repeatedly has had his appeal for a shorter sentence rejected by a state appeals court and will serve out his previously handed down 38-to-76-month jail term.

According to Penn Live, 27-year-old Enrique Soto was complicit to the child abuse as he witnessed girlfriend Anna Russell burn her son at least 15 times with a lighted cigarette at their Pittsburgh home in 2015. After being taken to a hospital by the 19-month-old's concerned grandmother, the boy was found to have suffered burns on his face, chest, neck, back, arms, and leg, with his three-year-old sister telling police that Soto "laughed...a lot, a lot, a lot." 

Soto lost his appeal and will serve out his 3-6 year sentence (Source: Allegheny County Jail)
Soto lost his appeal and will serve out his 3-6 year sentence (Source: Allegheny County Jail)

It was determined that the burns had been "administered deliberately, in a chronological order, over a very short period of time in one sitting," and both Russell and Soto were subsequently charged by authorities. The latter pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault, conspiracy, child endangerment, simple assault of a child, and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to 38-to-76 months in prison and a further five years of probation after release by Allegheny County Judge David Cashman. 

At the time, Cashman had told Soto that he was worse than Russell because he watched as the child burned and did nothing and that the two of them had planned the horrific abuse. He said he wanted to hand down a harsher sentence but held back because he feared it wouldn't hold as Soto wasn't technically a participant. The 27-year-old appealed the verdict but saw it rejected by a Superior Court Panel, with Judge Maria McLaughlin noting Soto's previous admission that he laughed while the toddler suffered, and pointing out that he had fumbled his appeal because he had not taken the proper steps to legally preserve his argument that his sentence was too excessive

Russell was sentenced to two years in prison (Source: Allegheny County Jail)
Russell was sentenced to two years in prison (Source: Allegheny County Jail)

However, she also stated that the panel would have still rejected his appeal even if he had crafted it in a proper manner. She wrote how the 27-year-old's "bald claim" that his sentence was too excessive and his argument that he was unfairly punished more harshly in comparison to partner Russell — she was sentenced to two years in jail and five years probation — "entitles him to no relief." 

Penn Live cited previous court records and reported that before the child-burning case, Soto already had convictions for crimes including assault, making terroristic threats, and receiving stolen property, which may also have played a part in his so-called "excessive" sentence.

The pair is believed to be serving out their sentence at the Allegheny County Jail.