One of five people accused in the deadly 2017 robbery of La Placita market pleaded guilty Monday.

Estrellita Soto, 36, of Nashville, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a count of interference with commerce by robbery.

Soto was accused of plotting the robbery of the store on Morgantown Road on March 17, 2017, in which Jose Cruz, 31, was shot and killed while attempting to intervene.

Soto reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that will dismiss an additional count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford said in court that prosecutors planned to use surveillance video footage from the store and cellphone records to make the case against Soto had she opted to face a jury trial.

Ford said that on the day of the robbery, Soto traveled from Nashville to Bowling Green with Jorge Santos Caballero-Melgar, who court records claim helped orchestrate the robbery and was in a relationship with Soto.

Soto entered La Placita with Lilian Duron about an hour before the robbery occurred and wired some money transfers, and remained in frequent phone contact with Caballero-Melgar during the afternoon.

Caballero-Melgar, Jonny Alexander Reyes-Martinez and Jose Adan Mejia Varela are accused of actually going into the business to carry out the robbery.

The three men are charged with murder through use of a firearm during a crime of violence, interference with commerce by robbery, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, conspiracy to carry or possess a firearm during a crime of violence and illegal re-entry after deportation.

Reyes-Martinez is identified in federal court records as the person who fired the fatal shot.

Ford said Monday that Duron and Soto had already left Bowling Green and were traveling back to Nashville when the robbery occurred at La Placita.

Duron pleaded guilty last year to a count of interference with commerce by robbery and has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The remaining co-defendants face a maximum potential penalty of life in prison should they be convicted as charged.

The entire group of co-defendants is accused of conspiring with eight other people living in Nashville to rob primarily Hispanic-owned businesses in multiple states in 2016 and 2017.

Soto is set to be sentenced Feb. 8 by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Greg Stivers.

— Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.