Just before his brother-in-law David Soto was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison, an East Hampton man said his sister had been planning to visit their mother in Mexico for the first time in three years when her estranged husband killed her.
Speaking in Spanish through a translator, Roberto Garcia, 23, said his sister, Blanca Soto, 29, was "a very good person" who was "very dedicated" to her two children.
"There is not much to say because there are no words to describe the pain my family feels," Garcia told State Supreme Court Justice C. Randall Hinrichs in Riverhead. "All I ask is that justice be done with this person because he did not assassinate just anyone, but . . . a defenseless woman, and the mother of his children."
David Soto, 41, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter. In addition to the 22-year prison term, he was sentenced to 5 years of post-release supervision. The maximum prison sentence for first-degree manslaughter is 25 years.
Soto's family declined to speak to reporters outside court. His attorney, Jason Bassett of Central Islip, said Blanca Soto's death was the result of "a badly deteriorating marriage and alcohol."
"He knew that he had to pay for what he had done," Bassett said.
David Soto had moved out of the family's home in a mobile home park. Previously, local police had been called to the home several times for domestic disturbances. Prosecutors said Soto was drunk on July 30 when he stabbed his wife in the back at their East Hampton home during an argument over his child visitation schedule.
The stabbing occurred in front of the couple's two children, then 11 and 9. The older child called police. Blanca Soto died at Southampton Hospital. Soto stabbed himself before he was arrested by police. The children are in the custody of David Soto's siblings.