West Liberty Salem school shooter gets maximum sentence

Local News

URBANA, Ohio (WDTN) — The teen who pleaded guilty to opening fire inside West Liberty Salem High School has been sentenced to prison.

Champaign County Judge Nick Selvaggio sentenced 18-year-old Ely Serna to the maximum of 23.5 years in prison.

After hearing testimony, Selvaggio heard impact statements, including one from shooting victim Logan Cole.

Cole asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence on Serna.

Serna pleaded guilty to attempted murder, felonious assault and inducing panic charges in April.

He shot Cole in a school bathroom in January 2017.

Serna could face up to 23 years in prison. He also spoke during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.

“Something like that left a very hard impression on my mind,” Serna said to the judge.

Serna also apologized and expressed regret.

But that didn’t stop the judge from handing down the maximum sentence.

“To this day, school counselors continue to be inundated with students visiting the guidance office due to stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Judge Nick Selvaggio of the Champaign County Common Pleas Court.

Prosecutors advocated for the maximum sentence since they say Serna carefully planned the shooting and was able to determine right from wrong. They also argued the severity of the crime and the number of people impacted by the shooting also called for the toughest penalty.

Logan Cole addressed the shooter.

“I would like you to know, though, that I forgive you for what you did to me in our school,” Cole said. “I also want you to know that I believe there is a difference between forgiveness and justice.”

Defense attorneys argued against a lengthy sentence due to Serna’s diagnosis of severe depression. 

Judge Selvaggio said while he believes Serna showed genuine remorse, that doesn’t take away from Serna’s inconsistencies to law enforcement and mental health professionals or the seriousness of the crime.

“The court finds that the victims closest to the shooting incident included 398 middle school and high school-aged children, 168 of whom felt compelled to break and exit through classroom windows,” Judge Selvaggio said.

According to officials, the time Serna has already served behind bars is included in his 23.5-year sentence.

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