West Liberty-Salem shooting suspect to be tried as an adult

The 17-year-old suspect in the West Liberty-Salem High School shooting will be tried as an adult.

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Ely Serna faces numerous charges, including 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, according to the county prosecutor’s office.

Serna is accused of sneaking a shotgun into West Liberty-Salem High School on Jan. 20 and shooting 17-year-old Logan Cole twice.

Cole survived and has since returned to classes, but he is still recovering from his injuries.

Champaign County Juvenile Court officials announced Monday that Serna’s case will be transferred to the Champaign County Court of Common Pleas.

MORE: West Liberty-Salem school shooting suspect ruled competent

Juvenile Court Judge Lori Reisinger made the decision after a mental competency hearing last month and after a probable cause hearing was waved by the defense last week.

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Since the shooting, Serna’s case has slowly made its way through juvenile court. He was arraigned and the defense requested a mental competency review to see whether Serna could understand court proceedings and if he could help in his own defense. Reisinger found that Serna was competent to stand trial.

Prosecutor Kevin Talebi and defense attorney Dennis Lieberman could not be reached for comment Monday. The prosecutor’s office announced early in the proceedings that it planned to ask the court to try Serna as an adult and in court last week made it clear it was a priority.

The office filed a request to move Serna’s case to adult court. The severity of the charges and Serna’s age warrant an automatic bind over to adult court, Talebi said last week.

“It’s the state’s position that the court doesn’t have the discretion to retain jurisdiction and that the case should, as a matter of law, be bound over to the adult division,” Talebi said.

MORE: Defense wants hearing closed for accused West Liberty shooter

Serna’s defense attorney, Dennis Lieberman, filed a motion with the court for an amenability hearing — to decide if Serna is eligible for treatment in facilities available to juveniles or needs to be tried as an adult.

The teen chose to waive his right to the hearing, and Reisinger ruled there is probable cause to continue with the case based on the narrative from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.

A new court date has not been set in the case.

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