AP news guide: Investigation of the killing of 5 in 2 states

AP News
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Posted: Mar 11, 2016 4:31 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Mexican national is charged with killing his neighbor and three other men at his neighbor's home in Kansas City, Kansas, and later gunning down another man in Missouri.

Here's where the case stood Friday:

DEFENDANT

Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, who is in the country illegally, remained in stable condition Friday at a hospital where he was taken Thursday after he cut himself with a safety razor in cell while apparently trying to take his own life, a Montgomery County jail official said.

Authorities have charged Serrano-Vitorino with five counts of first-degree murder — four in Kansas and one in Missouri — among other charges.

The state public defender's office in Fulton, Missouri, which is representing him, hasn't responded to repeated calls for comment.

WHERE THE WEAPON CAME FROM

Investigators don't believe the gun used in the attacks was stolen, but they are still trying to figure out who last legally purchased it, said John Ham, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He said Serrano likely obtained the weapon in or near Kansas City, given that he lived in the area.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol initially warned that Serrano-Vitorino might be armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, but Ham said the weapon was an SKS. Both weapons are Russian-made semi-automatic rifles and use the same-size cartridges.

THE CASE/VICTIMS

Investigators haven't said what may have led to the shootings in Kansas, but they said the Missouri victim, 49-year-old Randy Nordman, was likely a random target. His wife, Julie Nordman, speculated that Serrano-Vitorino confronted her husband while trying to steal the keys to one of their vehicles. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her husband yelled her name as he struggled with an intruder, giving her time to seek cover and call for help. Nordman's sister-in-law, Deanna Dunn, said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that Nordman managed to free the magazine from the rifle, "all before Randy was shot with the only bullet left in the chamber of the gun."

The four men in Kansas were shot late Monday. One of them managed to call police before he died, police said.

IMMIGRATION ISSUES

Serrano-Vitorino, 40, was deported from the U.S. in April 2004 because he was in the country illegally, but he re-entered at some unknown time, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since returning, he has avoided deportation despite legal run-ins, including a battery conviction last summer in Kansas City, Kansas.

In the run-up to his 2004 deportation, a felony complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court charged Serrano-Vitorino with making criminal threats against a woman with a rifle in February 2003. The threat was "so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific" in conveying that he'd kill her immediately, the complaint said. It also accused him of assaulting the woman with a firearm, but the complaint offered no details.

The Los Angeles Police Department declined to provide a police report Thursday. Superior Court spokeswoman Elizabeth Martinez said the threat charge was dismissed during plea negotiations, and Serrano-Vitorino was sentenced in April 2003 to two years in prison for the assault charge.

WHAT'S NEXT

Serrano is scheduled for his next court appearance on April 28. For now, the case is staying in Missouri.

Both states have the death penalty, though prosecutors haven't said whether they would pursue it. Kansas, which has nine men on death row, has not executed anyone since it reinstated capital punishment in 1994. Missouri, which has 28 condemned inmates, has put 18 people to death since 2013.

Lacy Fischer, the felony clerk in Montgomery County, said Friday that prosecutor Nathan Carroz wouldn't comment about the case at this time.