He was supposed to serve 30 years in prison for the Garza County murder of Socorro Storie, but now Pablo Soto is free after serving only six months behind bars. NewsChannel 11 has learned the state released Soto from a Houston prison cell Monday afternoon.
In November of last year, a Garza County jury convicted Soto for the murder of Storie. They sentenced him to 30 years in prison, but last month, Soto appeared before a pardon and parole board in what they call a terminally ill inmate hearing.
We've learned Soto has cancer and was even treated for the disease during his time in the Garza County Jail. The Garza County Sheriff tells us he had no idea Soto had been released until Tuesday, when a Lubbock County Parole Officer called and said Soto was sitting in the office.
NewsChannel 11 spoke with the victim's family Tuesday. Storie's daughter, Cruz Loya, tells us her family didn't find out until Tuesday either. She says the Garza County District Attorney's Office alerted them. She feels angry and frustrated at the Texas justice system.
"I don't know what's going on. Nobody knows anything. Nobody gives me any answers. I mean, from one day to another this man is out. Maybe it's been going on for a while, but we sure didn't know anything about it," Loya said.
Tuesday morning, Loya learned the man convicted of killing her mother had been released from prison. Investigators say Soto smashed into Storie's car, and then brutally beat her at a Post cemetery.
"That just devastated me, because we worked so hard to make sure he served time for what he's done, and then the system lets him out just like that," Loya said.
The attacked happened at Terrace Cemetery on May 16, 2005. Storie died three days later, on May 19th at a Lubbock Hospital. May 19, 2008 is when Soto was released.
"He was released on the 3rd year of my mom's anniversary, the same day," Loya said.
Garza County authorities contacted State Representative Joe Hefflin for an explanation. He told them that the state is not required to notify local law enforcement for a medical review.
"I think that our system needs to be looked at, because there are people that haven't ever done anything as bad as this man has done and they're still in prison. People die in prison. I don't see why he had to get out to die at home with his family when he personally devastated ours, because we won't ever see our mother again, ever. If he would even show some kind of remorse, but he never has, and probably never will," Loya said.
Loya tells us that Soto's family still lives in Post, and she fully expects him to return to the area. Garza County District Attorney Ricky Smith tells NewsChannel 11 his office plans to file a formal complaint with the state.
We left multiple messages with the state's board of pardons and paroles, but they never returned our calls.
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