Juvenile jail space shortage delays sentencing

Greg Klein | The Daily StarOneonta teenager Anais Soto, right, listens to court instructions Monday, March 8, in the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown, as her lawyer, Dennis Laughlin, looks at his notes. Soto’s sentencing in connection with the 2019 murder of Kenneth Robinson was reset for Monday, May 10.

The sentencing of Anais Soto, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges stemming from the 2019 murder of Worcester resident Kenneth Robinson, has been delayed again because of a lack of space in the state’s juvenile jails.

Soto, 17, accepted a guilty plea for first-degree burglary and agreed to testify against her co-defendants, if necessary, in exchange for murder and arson charges being dropped.

Soto was 15 when she served as a lookout for a robbery attempt of Robinson, by his son, Dylan Robinson, and several of Dylan’s friends or associates.  

She appeared in Otsego County Court on Monday, March 8, for sentencing, but for the second time this year, her sentencing was delayed by a lack of space in the state’s juvenile jails. 

Otsego County Judge John Lambert scheduled a new sentencing hearing for Monday, May 10, but advised Soto and her lawyer, Dennis Laughlin, to check with the court five days before the court date to make sure the state system is ready to take her.  

The sentencing delays have also affected Alexander Borggreen, who was 16 at the time of Robinson’s murder, and has accepted a plea deal similar to Soto’s.

Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl told The Daily Star last month that the delays are caused by several factors, including criminal justice reform and the additional jail space needed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kenneth Robinson, 53, was shot and killed in October 2019 in what Muehl has called an attempted theft of about $5,000 in cash and marijuana. After the shooting, the defendants tried to burn down Robinson’s house in an attempt to disguise his murder.

Oneonta resident Nicolas Meridy was sentenced in October to 22 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Burglary, robbery and arson charges were dropped in exchange for his plea.

At sentencing, Otsego County Judge John Lambert called Meridy, 33, the ringleader of the robbery-turned-murder plot and said he had led a group of teenagers astray by encouraging them to take part in the conspiracy.

Dylan Robinson, then 15, was also charged with second-degree murder, as well as first-degree burglary, first-degree attempted robbery and third-degree arson.

Dylan Robinson has not accepted a plea deal and his case is still pending, with a trial expected to take place this spring. 

Muehl had previously told The Daily Star that Meridy claims Robinson fired the fatal shot that killed his father.

The cases of two other teenage defendants in the case, Alexis Lottermann of Walton and Tatiana Febo of Downsville, then 16 and 17, were moved to Family Court.

Greg Klein. staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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