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MURDER CASE

Milton Serrano sentenced to 50 years for murder of Chantz Stevens

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Milton Serrano Jr. giggled as the parents of the man he murdered gave their victim impact statements.

Serrano, 22, was convicted of second-degree murder and criminal mischief on Oct. 12 in the stabbing death of Chantz Stevens, a former standout athlete in Wilton.

On Friday in the Cedar County Courthouse, Serrano was sentenced to the maximum 50 years on a second-degree murder charge and five years on a criminal mischief charge, to be served concurrently. He will also serve a 10-year sentence for burglary in Muscatine County concurrently.

During the sentencing, Judge Mark Lawson admonished Serrano for statements he made during the presentence investigation.

Serrano was sentenced in Cedar County after the trial was moved to Dubuque County because of the pretrial publicity surrounding the incident.

Serrano was arrested in Muscatine on July 19, 2020, after altercations at a party at 938 Quincy Ave., Clarence, Iowa.

Prosecutors argued Serrano went to the party looking for a fight, and got into two that night. During the first, he told people he had a knife and threatened to stab people. During the second, he stabbed Stevens twice in the abdomen.

Stevens died at the scene. 

Earlier in the evening, he had keyed a car, which led to the criminal mischief charge.

Serrano's lawyer maintained he acted in self-defense. While he was originally charged with first-degree murder, the jury instead convicted him of second-degree murder, a charge that does not require proof of specific intent or premeditation. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 50 years in prison, with the possibility of parole.

It took a Dubuque County jury just over two hours to find Serrano guilty of second-degree murder in Stevens’ death.

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