Competency hearing continued in WL-S shooting case


By Nick Walton - nwalton@civitasmedia.com



Ely R. Serna is escorted from court Friday following a hearing. A hearing on Serna’s competency was continued until next month.


Nick Walton | Urbana Daily Citizen

A competency hearing for the juvenile charged in a January shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School was continued Friday.

Ely R. Serna, 17, is facing 13 charges including two counts of attempted murder and six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone stemming from a Jan. 20 shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School.

During the hearing, the court noted a motion to continue the hearing was filed by Dennis Lieberman, Serna’s attorney.

Lieberman said the motion was filed because a witness for the defense was unable to attend Friday’s hearing.

The hearing was continued to May 5.

The continuation of the hearing took place after the court addressed multiple motions related to the competency hearing.

Lieberman filed a motion to exclude the general public from competency proceedings on March 30. On Friday he expressed concern over the public having access to harmful, confidential information on Serna which would be disclosed during the competency hearing.

Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said the state took no position on the matter but wanted the court to recognize the right of the victim and his parents to be present for the hearing.

Speaking on behalf of WDTN, attorney Michael Bly stated there were alternatives to a complete public ban of the hearing.

After considering the party’s arguments, Judge Lori Reisinger ordered for the competency hearing to be closed in part stating the potential harm if personal information was disclosed outweighed the public’s need for access. The hearing will be closed to the public when testimony by people who authored the competency report are giving testimony.

The evaluation to determine Serna’s competency to stand trial was originally ordered during a Feb. 3 status hearing.

Two people were injured in the shooting including West Liberty-Salem High School student Logan Cole. Cole, who returned to school in mid-February following weeks of recovery from injuries sustained in the shooting, was in attendance wearing a neck brace for Friday’s hearing.

Ely R. Serna is escorted from court Friday following a hearing. A hearing on Serna’s competency was continued until next month.
http://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2017/04/web1_Serna1.jpgEly R. Serna is escorted from court Friday following a hearing. A hearing on Serna’s competency was continued until next month. Nick Walton | Urbana Daily Citizen

By Nick Walton

nwalton@civitasmedia.com

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.