Ely Serna

Judge extends deadline in West Liberty-Salem school shooter case

A judge has given the state an extension to reply to an appeals brief filed in the case against the West Liberty-Salem High School shooter.

Champaign County Common Pleas Judge Nick Selvaggio extended the deadline recently. The state now has until March 12 to respond to an appeals brief that asks the court to reconsider Ely Serna’s maximum sentence.

READ: West Liberty-Salem school shooter appeals for new sentence

Serna, who was 17 on Jan. 20, 2017 when he brought a shotgun to school and opened fire, was sentenced in May to 23½ years in prison — the maximum sentence — by Champaign County Common Pleas Judge Nicholas Selvaggio.

Serna’s been serving the sentence since.

He pleaded guilty to attempted murder, felonious assault and inducing panic. Serna shot then-West Liberty-Salem student Logan Cole twice, leaving the teen badly injured. Serna also shot at a teacher and into classrooms during the incident.

“The maximum sentence of 23½ years communicates that there was nothing in the record — not Ely’s remorse; not Ely’s serious but treatable mental health diagnosis; and not Ely’s moderate-to-low risk scores — to mitigate the harshest punishment that was available under the law,” the appeals brief states.

MORE: Ely Serna sentencing: What happened inside the courtroom on an emotional day

“The argument is not that Ely should escape punishment for his actions,” the court document states. “Rather, the law recognizes the differences between adults and children who commit serious offenses and those difference must be considered when determining culpability and punishment.”

Serna’s attorneys argue the judge sentenced the teen contrary to law because he imposed the maximum sentence after researching the causes and effects of Vyvanse, a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and that the judge didn’t take Serna’s age into account during sentencing. The defense team also argued that Serna was depressed at the time of the shooting and that he showed remorse for his actions.

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