Ely Serna (left) and his attorney, Dennis Lieberman during arraignment proceedings in Champaign County Common Pleas Court. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF
Photo: Jeff Guerini
Photo: Jeff Guerini

Champaign judge wants school shooting case done before classes resume

A Champaign County judge wants the West Liberty-Salem High School shooting case resolved before students return to class at the beginning of September.

Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio said during an arraignment held for suspect Ely Serna, 17, on Thursday that it is important to him that the case be finished before school starts. He said it could potentially give students and staff some closure.

RELATED: West Liberty school shooting: Accused to be tried as adult

He set a trial date for Aug. 21. Selvaggio kept Serna’s bond at $1 million and entered a not guilty plea on Serna’s behalf. The defense asked the court to lower the bond, saying that Serna would be able to get better mental care at home.

The prosecution argued that Serna may still be a danger to community and that he has been put on suicide watch/ precaution.

READ MORE: Defense wants hearing closed for accused West Liberty shooter

Serna faces two counts of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault, six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone, a count of inducing panic and an count of illegal conveyance or possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone. He is accused of bringing a shotgun to school and shooting 17 year old Logan Cole twice and shooting at a teacher.

The judge also set two pre-trial dates, July 13 and Aug. 7. Selvaggio questioned Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi and defense attorney Dennis Lieberman about their needs if the case does move to trial. Talebi said he expects to call 30 to 50 witnesses, and Lieberman said he would expect to call about 10.

Talebi also said he would like the jury to visit the high school.

MORE COVERAGE: Accused school shooter Ely Serna allegedly asked victim to shoot him

Selvaggio told Serna that he wants to give him as much time as possible to decide if he wants to take the case to trial, however, because of the tight deadline he might be reluctant to give him more time after Aug. 7. The defense stated that they are exploring seeking a second mental evaluation to determine how they will plead.

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