MUSIC
2017 Grammy Awards: Complete list of nominees

Suspect in Midwest slayings who could have been deported had run-ins with law in Los Angeles

The Mexican man accused of killing five people in the Midwest this week had a history of violence and arrests in Los Angeles, according to court records obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

In one incident in 2003, Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, 40, threatened to kill his wife with a rifle after an argument at their home in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sylmar, according to a court report. A year later, he was deported to Mexico.

Now, mystery and anger surrounds Serrano-Vitorino as some politicians asked how was able to return to the U.S. illegally and slip through immigration officials' hands after he was arrested and released at least twice over the last two years.

NEWSLETTER: Get essential California headlines delivered daily >> 

Serrano-Vitorino is charged with killing four men with an AK-47 rifle at his next-door neighbor's house in Kansas City, Kan., on Monday night, and then going on the run and fatally shooting another man Wednesday morning in rural eastern Missouri.

After his arrest, Serrano-Vitorino reportedly made an unsuccessful attempt to kill himself with a safety razor Thursday morning. A deputy at a Montgomery County, Mo., jail declined to say on Friday afternoon whether he had been released from the hospital, citing security reasons.

Officials in Kansas and Missouri are eager to prosecute him first.

"Because of the incompetence of the Obama administration, five people are dead," Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican candidate for state attorney general, said Thursday. "This monster should be prosecuted and executed in Missouri, by Missouri. Period."

Jerome A. Gorman, district attorney for Wyandotte County, Kan., told The Times on Friday that investigators had a "good indication" of Serrano-Vitorino's motive in the shootings at his neighbor's house, but declined to elaborate further, citing the ongoing case.

Gorman said Serrano-Vitorino came to Kansas with a girlfriend after traveling up from Houston two years ago, but the prosecutor said he didn't know when Serrano-Vitorino entered the U.S. or where he obtained the gun.

Serrano-Vitorino used to live with a wife and their three children in Los Angeles, where Serrano-Vitorino had at least three scrapes with the law.

In 1998, the Los Angeles Police Department arrested Serrano-Vitorino on suspicion of making a threat with the intent to terrorize. He was later convicted of a lesser charge of disturbing the peace and sentenced to 12 months of probation, according to court records.

In 2001, the LAPD arrested him again, for driving without a license, and he was convicted and sentenced to three years of probation.

Then, at 8 p.m. Feb. 2, 2003, Serrano-Vitorino got into an argument with his wife, which led her to call police to their home in Sylmar, according to a probation officer's report.

After police arrived, took a report, and left, Serrano-Vitorino got a rifle and threatened to kill her in front of three other people who also lived at the house, the court records say.

When officers came back, Serrano-Vitorino "stated that he was an alcoholic and acknowledged threatening to kill his wife with a gun," but said that he didn't mean it, the records say.

Serrano-Vitorino's wife sounded conciliatory when contacted by an investigator a month later, saying she hoped investigators would drop the case against her husband of 10 years.

She said that Serrano-Vitorino did not point the rifle at her and that he was as an alcoholic in need of counseling. She described him as "a good husband, father and a hard worker," a court report says.

The state pressed ahead with charges, and Serrano-Vitorino was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading no contest to a felony threats charge. Immigration officials deported him a year later.

After illegally returning to the U.S., Serrano-Vitorino had three more scrapes with the law in the Midwest.

On Nov. 21, 2014, Serrano-Vitorino was convicted of driving under the influence in Coffee County, Kan., but officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency was not notified about his case.

On June 15, 2015, police in Kansas City, Kan., arrested Serrano-Vitorino on suspicion of domestic assault. ICE was alerted, but he was processed and released before the agency could investigate, immigration officials said.

Then, on Sept. 14, 2015, ICE received notification that Serrano-Vitorino had been fingerprinted at Overland Park Municipal Court for receiving a citation for driving without a license in the Kansas City suburb. But ICE was unable to launch deportation proceedings because he was never ordered to jail.

Serrano-Vitorino was captured in Montgomery County, Mo., early Wednesday morning, about 17 hours after officials allege that he ditched his truck along Interstate 70 and then killed a local man, Randy Nordman, at his home.

The victim's wife, Julie Nordman, had fled to the attic to call 911 after seeing her husband struggle with an attacker, and she soon heard a single gunshot.

“Our family wants to know why he was allowed to stay in this country,” Julie Nordman's sister, Deanna Dunn, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Why was this mistake made? Who allowed him to be here?”

Follow @MattDPearce for national news

ALSO

Chaos breaks out at Trump rally in Chicago

180 bodies are stacked up in L.A. County morgue, coroner says

LAPD policy needs to be revamped to further limit deadly force, commissioners say

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
61°