Veronica Serrano’s family has been searching for a reason to understand why the 34-year-old mother of six and her teenage son were gunned down on the front steps of their Page Street home last year.
In a crowded Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom Monday, her brother, Henry Serrano, said they have to believe it was to get both the gun and the man who pulled the trigger off the streets.
Daurin Patton, 27, of 1202 Champlain St. was ordered to serve two consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2011 shooting deaths of Ms. Serrano and 14-year-old Timothy Blair. He had been found guilty Friday after a week-long jury trial of two counts of aggravated murder with gun specifications and one count of aggravated robbery.
“My sister died a meaningless death trying to protect her kids as any one of us would,” Mr. Serrano told Judge Dean Mandros. “I know there is reason for all things. The one I want to place on this tragedy is that my sister and nephew saved many lives of the Toledo residents by their deaths. That’s the only thing that gives me relief, not to mention the assault rifle taken off the streets ...”
A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about two hours Friday before finding Patton guilty of the counts. Judge Mandros said Monday that he agreed with the jury verdict after hearing the evidence in the case, which he labeled “overwhelming.”
According to testimony at the trial, the incident began when Ms. Serrano’s elder son, Gary Blair, and a friend, Lawrence Elliot, were robbed of a liquor bottle by a man with a sawed-off shotgun. During that incident, Mr. Blair was hit on the head with the gun.
After returning home and telling his family what happened, Ms. Serrano and her younger son went outside to see who was responsible.
An admitted member of a local gang called the Bagdad Boys, Patton felt “disrespected” and decided to show who ran the streets of North Toledo, assistant prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments. And so when confronted by Ms. Serrano, he responded by shooting a SKS semi-automatic rifle and piercing each victim’s body twice, they said.
Patton was sentenced to two consecutive life without parole sentences, as well as a consecutive term of 10 years in prison for the aggravated robbery plus three years for the merged gun specifications. Judge Mandros told Patton that his actions of gunning down a woman and her son on the steps of their own home was “something you would expect to occur in the Middle East, not one mile from this courthouse.”
The judge further stated that the north end must be turned into “a demilitarized zone” where residents are no longer scared.
“I watched your face while Mr. Serrano spoke and I didn’t see any sign of remorse or empathy,” the judge told Patton. “Maybe that’s what to be expected since these are human qualities that your conduct has shown you don’t possess.”
Patton maintained his innocence and expressed his desire to appeal his conviction and sentence. He apologized to the Serrano family for their pain but said he was an innocent man.
Patton also faced charges for participating in a criminal gang and harassment with a bodily substance. The harassment case was dismissed Monday but the gang charge was set for trial Jan. 22.
After the hearing concluded, members of the Serrano family gathered together outside the courtroom where they cheered the sentence. They said they wanted to thank police, prosecutors, the jurors, and especially the witnesses in the case, several who openly expressed fear while testifying.
“To the public, I’m not asking them to step up but to speak up,” Mr. Serrano said. “When you see something happening, don’t step up and risk yourself but speak up to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Contact Erica Blake at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.