In January 2017, then 17-year-old Ely Serna walked into his Ohio high school and opened fire on two students. The shooter critically injured Logan Cole and another unnamed pupil. On Wednesday (May 2), the Champaign County judge sentenced the now 18-year-old to more than 23 years in prison due to Cole’s graphic testimony.
According to the New York Post, Cole while recounting his story on the stand said he went into the bathroom of West Liberty-Salem High School before participating in a mock trial competition. Suddenly, Serna entered the bathroom and shot him in the chest with a shotgun. Cole spoke about watching his own blood splatter onto the wall and his front teeth cracking as he hit the floor.
Cole took the stand to urge the Champaign County judge to give Serna the maximum sentence for the shooting that left him with hundreds of lead shotgun pellets in his body. Serna’s defense attorney Dennis Lieberman blamed the teen’s actions on his mental illness, saying he believed he was following a deity’s orders when he opened fire. Lieberman expressed disappointment in the judge’s sentencing as he felt his mental health wasn’t properly taken into consideration. According to psychologists who diagnosed Serna with major depressive disorder, he didn’t know right from wrong at the time of the shooting.
Serna himself was said to be remorseful as he pleaded guilty to counts of attempted murder, felonious assault and inducing panic. He reportedly wanted to “spare others” from reliving the events by undergoing trial. His family is currently debating if they will appeal the judge’s decision. Cole says he forgives Serna but “there is a difference between forgiveness and justice.”