Serna admitted to mental health hospital


A hearing on a motion to suppress in the case of Ely R. Serna has been vacated, according to a journal entry filed in the Champaign County Common Pleas Court Tuesday.

Serna, 17, was indicted last month on 13 charges, including two counts of attempted murder, six counts of improperly discharging a firearm at or into a habitation or a school safety zone and one count of illegal conveyance or possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance in a school safety zone stemming from a Jan. 20 shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School.

In Tuesday’s journal entry, Judge Nick Selvaggio states as the result of motions filed by Serna’s attorney, Dennis Lieberman, last Friday the court arranged a telephone conference on Monday with Lieberman and Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi to address procedural and scheduling matters.

On June 21, a motion to suppress statements and other evidence was filed by Lieberman seeking to suppress statements and evidence from Serna’s interview with law enforcement following the shooting.

A response was filed by the state on June 29 and a hearing on the motion was scheduled for Thursday.

During Monday’s telephone conference, the journal entry states, in light of a pending competency motion and by agreement of both parties the suppression hearing was vacated.

Last Friday, a motion to determine competency was filed by Lieberman to evaluate Serna’s competency to stand trial.

“While Ely Serna previously filed a motion to determine his competency in juvenile court, recent events require a new examination to determine if Ely Serna is currently competent to stand trial,” Lieberman states.

The court ordered the state to file any response to this motion by July 17 and the defense to file any reply to the state’s response by July 19.

By agreement of the parties, the court will schedule a hearing on Serna’s motion to dismiss the case to take place immediately prior to the hearing on the motion to suppress.

The journal entry states the court will reschedule the suppression hearing date upon the court’s resolution of the competency motion or, if an evaluation is ordered, once a finding of competency to stand trial is made by the court.

Doctor authorized to have access to Serna

In addition to addressing these motions, the court approved a motion for Dr. Daniel Davis to visit and have access to Serna at the Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare Facility.

The court previously authorized Davis to have access to Serna at the Central Ohio Youth Center for as long as necessary to evaluate him.

Within the journal entry, Selvaggio states the court received notification on June 29 that the Central Ohio Youth Center was investigating reported events from earlier in the week indicating Serna was in need of additional mental health services.

On June 30, the court received notification from the Central Ohio Youth Center that on the same date Serna expressed certain ideas that caused the facility to request Maryhaven, a mental health service provider, to enter the facility and evaluate him.

Later in the day, the court was informed by the Central Ohio Youth Center that Maryhaven had reason to believe Serna was a “mentally ill person subject to hospitalization by court order” under state law and represented a substantial risk of physical harm to himself and others. The court was also notified Maryhaven intended to prepare an application for emergency admission to a mental health hospital.

The journal entry states following conversations among representatives from the Central Ohio Youth Center, Maryhaven, the Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare and the court, a placement plan was coordinated for Serna’s admission to Twin Valley. The entry further states Serna was admitted there for hospitalization on July 6.

During Monday’s telephone conference, Lieberman indicated Serna remained hospitalized since he was transported there and his family had given consent to have him be voluntarily admitted to Twin Valley for further hospitalization and treatment.


By Nick Walton

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

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