Missing home invaders convicted in absentia

2013-09-13T17:00:00Z 2013-09-14T13:49:29Z Missing home invaders convicted in absentiaBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A Pima County Superior Court jury has found two men guilty of committing a home invasion in 2012.

Rosario Ignacio Soto, 27, and Agustin Soto Rivera, 37, who were tried in absentia, were convicted on counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, burglary, marijuana possession and fleeing from the law.

The men were arrested in March 2012 in connection with a home invasion at a legal medical marijuana grow house on the northeast side.

Soto, Rivera and a third unidentified assailant forced their way into the victim’s home, brandished firearms and stole more than $3,700 in cash, marijuana, a gun and a cellphone.

Police tracked the cell-phone to a location on Tucson’s east side where Soto and Rivera were arrested.

Rivera’s attorney, Jack Lansdale, made a case during closing arguments that his client may have been present during the crime, but did not participate. “If they’re not doing anything on this evening, they’re merely present,” Lansdale said.

He said the jury instructions explain that mere presence at a crime scene or association with another person at a crime scene was not enough to determine a defendant’s guilt.

Deputy County Attorney Rona Kreamer disputed the argument, reminding the jury that police found the victim’s wallet and other personal items with the defendants when they were arrested.

“That’s not merely present,” Kreamer said.

She also reminded jurors the defendants matched descriptions and wore the same clothing the victims described to police.

Both men were tried in absentia because they have not been seen or heard from since at least February.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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