Defense: West Liberty school shooting suspect had depression, anxiety


UPDATE @ 2:50 p.m.: Attorneys in the West Liberty-Salem High School shooting case argued Tuesday about whether the suspect could legally waive his Miranda rights.

Ely Serna, 18, is charged with two counts of attempted murder and other felony charges in connection with the Jan. 20, 2017, school shooting. He’s pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

A psychologist and a psychiatrist testified Tuesday that he suffered from severe depression and anxiety at the time of the shooting.

EXTRA: West Liberty school shooting suspect to stay in adult court

The defense says because he was suffering from the mental disorders, he couldn’t rationalize the consequences of him waiving his rights. However, prosecutors say he understood the rights and voluntarily waived them.

Champaign County Common Pleas Judge Nick Selvaggio took the arguments under advisement.

FIRST REPORT: The West-Liberty Salem High School shooting suspect is expected to be in Champaign County Common Pleas today.

Ely Serna, 18, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and other felony charges. He allegedly brought a shotgun to West Liberty-Salem High School on Jan. 20, 2017, and shot fellow student Logan Cole twice in a school’s bathroom, according to a sheriff’s office report. He’s also accused of shooting at a teacher and firing other shots toward classrooms, the report says.

WEST LIBERTY-SALEM: Tiger Stronger Day marks West Liberty school shooting anniversary

The Tuesday hearing is to discuss a motion by the defense to suppress what Serna allegedly told Champaign County deputies during an interrogation following the shooting. Serna pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and the defense has argued his statements to law enforcement at the time shouldn’t be allowed.

A jury trial is set for April 10 in the case. Defense Attorney Dennis Lieberman said in court he expects the defense to ask the court for a bench trial instead of a jury trial. The trial is expected to last through April 20.

READ: West Liberty-Salem still healing 1 year after school shooting

The Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office plans to call between 30 and 35 witnesses if the case does go to trial, Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said. The prosecutor’s office is prepared to move forward to trial whether Champaign County Judge Nick Selvaggio rules the interrogation to be admissible or not, Talebi said.

EXTRA: West Liberty school shooting suspect to stay in adult court

The hearing was expected to take place in January, however, the defense didn’t get a document to the prosecutor’s office by a deadline, Selvaggio said, and therefore he had to schedule another hearing date for the motion.




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