7th person arraigned Friday in death of Northampton man Daniel Cruz

  • Pedro Soto-Rodriguez, 21, was arraigned for charges related to the murder of Daniel Cruz in Hampshire Superior Court Friday, January 11, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Pedro Soto-Rodriguez, 21, was arraigned for charges related to the murder of Daniel Cruz in Hampshire Superior Court Friday, January 11, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Pedro Soto-Rodriguez, 21, was arraigned for charges related to the murder of Daniel Cruz in Hampshire Superior Court Friday, January 11, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Pedro Soto-Rodriguez, 21, was arraigned for charges related to the murder of Daniel Cruz in Hampshire Superior Court Friday, January 11, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Pedro Soto-Rodriguez, 21, was arraigned for charges related to the murder of Daniel Cruz in Hampshire Superior Court Friday, January 11, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/11/2019 7:30:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A key figure, according to prosecutors, in the events surrounding the death of Daniel Cruz was arraigned in Hampshire Superior Court on Friday, and his bail was set at $100,000 cash.

Pedro Soto-Rodriguez, 21, of Northampton, is alleged by the commonwealth to have gotten into an altercation with Cruz, 44, of Northampton, at Meadowbrook Apartments in Northampton on March 10. Another man, Nerkin Omar Morales, 22, also of Northampton, is then alleged to have intervened with a firearm, allegedly shooting Cruz three times and killing him.

Soto-Rodriguez and Morales are then alleged to have enlisted a group of people to help them cover up the crime, and later that evening they and others are alleged to have taken Cruz’s body to field in Hatfield, where it was lit on fire.

Soto-Rodriguez was the seventh person arraigned of the eight indicted on Nov. 26 on charges related to the case.

Soto-Rodriguez has been indicted on charges of accessory after the fact to murder, burning personal property, two counts of withholding evidence from a criminal proceeding, two counts of conspiracy, improper disposition of a human body, and intimidation of a witness.

Soto-Rodriguez was represented by court-appointed attorney Jeanne Liddy at his arraignment Friday, who entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl asked for $100,000 cash bail for the defendant with conditions, which was agreed to by the defense. Soto-Rodriguez’s bail was then set by Judge Michael Callan at $100,000 cash without prejudice.

Soto-Rodriguez’s next court appearance in the case is set for May 6.

The only remaining person indicted in the case who has not been arraigned is Chelsea T. Rodriguez, who is being held by authorities in Florida after being arrested in DeLand, Florida, in December. Suhl expects her to be returned to Massachusetts before the end of the month.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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