Ely Serna (left) and his attorney, Dennis Lieberman in Judge Lori L. Reisinger’s courtroom during a probable cause hearing. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Judge: West Liberty school shooting suspect competent to stand trial

The teen accused in the West Liberty-Salem High School shooting has been found competent to stand trial, according to court documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.

The case against Ely Serna, 17, should move forward, Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Nick Selvaggio says in a court journal entry.

MORE: Judge accepts West Liberty suspect’s insanity plea

“After a review of the competency evaluation report, the court finds the defendant competent to stand trial,” Selvaggio wrote in the entry.

Serna has been hospitalized at Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare in Columbus for several months. His court proceedings had been put on hold while he was evaluated to determine if he could stand trial on several charges in connection with the shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School in January.

Serna has been accused of bringing a shotgun to school and firing six shots. Another student, 17-year-old Logan Cole, was shot twice in the chest and survived.

Deputies have alleged Serna also shot at a teacher and then randomly shot at classrooms before he was detained by school staff members. Another student was grazed by a shotgun pellet but not injured.

Serna has been charged with several felonies — two counts of attempted murder, three counts of felonious assault, six counts of improperly discharging a firearm, and single counts of inducing panic and illegal conveyance of a deadly weapon in a school.

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

Selvaggio says in the court documents he reviewed a report by Barbra Bergman of the Forensic Psychiatry Center for Western Ohio and both the prosecution and defense accepted the report.

The judge ordered Serna to remain at Twin Valley so that he could remain competent at the request of the defense, the court documents say.

Serna has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi also has requested a second evaluation to get a mental condition at the time of the alleged offense.

Serna will undergo a second evaluation, the court documents say, to determine his mental state at the time of the shooting.

The court ordered Daniel Hrinko to do the evaluation. Hrinko evaluated Serna during the juvenile court proceedings before he was moved to adult court.

Serna is due in court on Oct. 23 for a hearing on defense motions that ask the court to suppress some evidence and dismiss the case. His defense says Serna’s case should be moved back to juvenile court because he didn’t get an amenability hearing before having his case moved to adult court.

An amenability hearing reviews a juvenile offender’s likelihood of rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system.

In the motion to move the case back, Lieberman argues proper procedure wasn’t followed before Champaign County Juvenile Judge Lori Reisinger ordered the transfer. Serna had waived his right to a probable cause hearing but did ask for an amenability hearing, according to the motion.


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