Milton Serrano Jr. appeals murder conviction


Milton Serrano Jr., the Muscatine man convicted of Second Degree Murder in the stabbing death of 2019 Wilton graduate Chantz Stevens, has filed an appeal.

Miguel Puentes, Serrano Jr.’s defense attorney, filed the “appeal to the Supreme Court of Iowa from the final judgment entered herein Oct. 29, 2021, and all adverse rulings inhering therein,” according to court documents.

Puentes also filed documents requesting appointment of appellate counsel for Serrano Jr. and preparation of court transcripts at the state’s expense. “The defendant’s financial situation has not changed since he originally applied for court appointed counsel,” Puentes said in the documents filed Nov. 1 in Cedar County.

A court order, filed Nov. 2 and signed by District Court Judge Mark Lawson, granted the request to prepare and send the transcripts, and that an “appellate public defender is appointed to represent the defendant in his appeal.”

Digital copies of the court record will be sent to the clerk of the Supreme Court of Iowa, and the case will be reviewed to determine whether an appeal hearing is granted. The Supreme Court of Iowa had taken no action by press time.

As previously reported:

A jury trial was held in Dubuque County on a change of venue, where Serrano Jr. was charged with First Degree Murder. At the conclusion of the trial, he was found guilty of Second Degree Murder.

A sentencing hearing was held Oct. 29 in Cedar County (Tipton), where Serrano Jr. was sentenced to 50 years in the Iowa Department of Corrections, “with credit on said sentence for time spent in the Cedar and Dubuque County jails,” according to the sentencing order from District Court Judge Mark Lawson of Iowa’s Seventh Judicial District.

Serrano Jr. will not be eligible for parole until he has served 70 percent of the sentence.

He was also sentenced to five years in prison in relation to his guilty plea to the charge of Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree. Serrano Jr. was charged with keying a car at the scene of the crime. He was also sentenced to pay a fine of $1,025 and a 15 percent crime services surcharge. The fine and surcharges are suspended, according to the court order.

The sentences for both crimes are to be served concurrently, and Serrano Jr. will serve his time in the Fort Madison correctional facility.

He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $150,000 to Tiffany and Andrew Stevens — Chantz Stevens’ parents. However the court order also noted that “the defendant only has the reasonable ability to pay $1,500 toward the full amount of restitution.”