Pablo Serrano-Victorino, 42, stands charged with five counts of first-degree murder for allegedly killing four men in Kansas City, Kansas, and then another man in Missouri. When the killings took place in 2016, Serrano-Vitorino was arrested but then released twice, according to a lawsuit filed by the father of one of the five victims. The lawsuit alleged that federal immigration officials missed two opportunities to arrest and deport Serrano-Vitorino -- a Mexican national -- before he could carry out the killings.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the father of one of Serrano-Vitorino’s victims, Austin Harter. 

The alleged killer illegally re-entered the United States at some point after he was deported to Mexico after a 2003 felony conviction. Despite being behind bars again in 2014 and 2015, the lawsuit claims, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) failed to detain him. While Serrano-Vitorino was arrested for battery in Kansas in 2014, no ICE agent ever showed up to detain him despite notification from Wyandotte County jail officials that the illegal immigrant was in custody, the lawsuit alleges. Serrano-Vitorino was arrested again in 2014 on an impaired driving charge, but the lawsuit does not clarify whether ICE officials were notified.

Serrano-Vitorino was released from jail again in 2015 when ICE officials sent a detainer request in his name to the wrong jail in Johnson County, Kansas, according to the lawsuit. The complaint alleges that an inability to follow its own procedures provided ICE with the “means for a convicted felon who was illegally in the country, but in custody, to be released and kill Austin and the four other victims." The lawsuit added, that "these deaths were foreseeable and preventable had the ICE officials, officers and/or agents involved simply followed the laws, regulations and/or procedures, which they were required to uphold."

Currently, Serrano-Vitorino is being held in a St. Louis, Missouri, jail awaiting trial. He has pleaded not guilty to the murders of the five men. Besides the charges of first-degree murder he faces in Kansas, he also faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Randy Nordman of New Florence, Missouri. The victims in Kansas are as follows: Austin Harter, Clint Harter, Mike Capps, and Jeremy Waters.

Missouri prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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