Serna will face judge, not a jury



Ely Serna has decided to forego a jury trial and will let Champaign County Common Pleas Judge Nick Selvaggio determine whether he is guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity for a Jan. 20, 2017, shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School.

He is set to stand trial April 10 and, with his attorney’s guidance, he filed paperwork to waive his right to a jury trial.

Serna, now 18, has been charged with 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.

Authorities alleged Serna, as a 17-year-old junior, smuggled a partially disassembled 12-gauge pump-action shotgun into the school and assembled it in a bathroom stall.

He allegedly shot Logan Cole twice. Logan survived and has recovered for the most part from the physical injuries. Lead pellets remain inside the high school senior and he undergoes ongoing monitoring for lead levels in his blood.

Serna fired other shots outside the bathroom and a second student sustained a grazing wound.

Defense attorney Dennis Lieberman told the court in January he was considering waiving a jury trial. He formalized the decision in a recent filing.

Making the decision to waive a jury trial isn’t easy, Lieberman told the Springfield News-Sun.

“It is rare that I personally, as an attorney, waive a jury trial,” Lieberman said.

“I usually have to have real concerns about the type of jury that I am able to get and in a case like this with a lot of emotion throughout the country for these types of situations, I thought a judge would be more able to sift through the emotion and deal only with the facts and opinion of the experts.”

Serna has been evaluated by a half dozen psychologists and psychiatrists since the shooting.

While a juvenile at the time of the shooting, Serna was bound over to the adult courts.

Serna remains lodged in the Tri-County Regional Jail in Mechanicsburg.