Lawyers for mid-Missouri murder suspect want death penalty off table
MONTGOMERY COUNTY - The public defenders for a man accused in a 2016 murder in New Florence filed a motion Wednesday asking that the death penalty be removed as a possible sentence.
Pablo Serrano-Vitorino is charged with shooting Randy Nordman on March 8, 2016 at Nordman's home. That shooting happened a day after Serrano-Vitorino allegedly shot four men to death in Kansas City, Kansas. The Montgomery County prosecutor said he plans to seek the death penalty in the case.
In their motion, Serrano-Vitorino's lawyers mentioned the costs required to send a mitigation specialist to Mexico, where the suspect was born and lived until he was 17. Mitigation work is meant to find information or factors about a suspect which might justify leniency by the court.
The only person qualified to do mitigation work in this case, according to the public defenders, would require $59,000 to complete the job. The court ruled the state of Missouri should pay $40,000 of that amount, with the state public defenders office covering the remaining $19,000.
The defense said the state indicated it plans to appeal the court's ruling, and thus has not paid their part of the mitigation work bill. However, according to Wednesday's motion, the state has not filed any such appeal to date.
Serrano-Vitorino's lawyers say delaying the mitigation work, which they believe will take a lot of time and effort, could lead to lost or undiscovered information for their client. That, the defense suggested, could leave the jury without the mitigating evidence it is "constitutionally required" to consider.