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Serrano claims self defense in death of Chantz Stevens
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Serrano claims self defense in death of Chantz Stevens

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TIPTON — According to recently filed court documents, Milton Jermaine Cole Serrano Jr. intends to claim a justification of self defense when he is tried for first-degree murder in the July 19 death of Chantz Stevens.

The filing says the defense intends to call “any and all witnesses listed by the State of Iowa in its trial information, attached minutes of testimony or any amendments or suppliments thereto.”

Serrano, 21, of Muscatine, is accused of the stabbing death of Chantz Stevens, 19, of Wilton.

A trial has not been scheduled yet.

According to Iowa Chapter 704.13 “a person who is justified in using reasonable force against an aggressor in defense of oneself, another person, or property pursuant to section 704.4 is immune from criminal or civil liability for all damages incurred by the aggressor pursuant to the application of reasonable force.”

The definition of “reasonable force” is “that force and no more which a reasonable person, in like circumstances, would judge to be necessary to prevent an injury or loss and can include deadly force if it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to avoid injury or risk to one’s life or safety or the life or safety of another, or it is reasonable to believe that such force is necessary to resist a like force or threat.”

According to court documents, Judge Mark Lawson ordered all motions be filed within 40 days of the written arraignment entered Sept. 16 and all discovery completed within 40 days after that, unless the time is extended by another court order. Serrano remains in the Cedar County Jail under a $1 million cash-only bond. Serrano is represented by Miguel Puentes of the Davenport Public Defender’s Office.

The charges stem from a July 19 party at 938 Quincy Ave., Clarence, in rural Cedar County. The charge of second- degree criminal mischief alleges that Serrano keyed a silver Toyota Camry belonging to another party, resulting in about $1,000 damage.

According to the police reports, Serrano had been asked to leave the party by several other party-goers, which led to two physical altercations. After the first altercation, Serrano allegedly made reference to having a knife in his pocket and threatened to stab people at the scene.

When Serrano got into the second altercation, with Stevens, he allegedly retrieved the knife from his pocket and stabbed Stevens twice in the abdomen. Another person at the scene was able to get the knife away from Serrano. The report says that Serrano then made reference that he was going to his vehicle to get a gun. People who attended the party with Serrano were able to convince him to leave the area.

Several people at the scene attempted to give first aid to Stevens but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Later that morning, Serrano posted to social media, saying he had been involved in a physical altercation and had stabbed someone. In the post, Serrano has what appears to be dried blood on him. Muscatine police located Serrano at a residence in Muscatine. According to records, Serrano admitted to having been involved in an altercation in which he stabbed someone. Evidence was seized at the scene, including clothing that was consistent with those described by witnesses.

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