KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A jailed Mexican national accused of killing five men earlier this week cut himself with a safety razor in an apparent bid to take his own life, authorities said Thursday.
Pablo Antonio Serrano-Vitorino, 40, was hospitalized in stable condition after being found bleeding Thursday morning in Montgomery County’s jail, the county sheriff’s department said in a statement. He was taken to the facility after his capture Wednesday a few miles from where authorities say he gunned down a 49-year-old man at the man’s home.
The department’s statement did not specify how Serrano-Vitorino obtained the razor.
Serrano-Vitorino, who is in the country illegally, is charged with first-degree murder in that man’s death and the deaths of his neighbor and three other men Monday in Kansas City, Kansas. His public defender in the Missouri case, Stephen Payne, didn’t immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Missouri’s attorney general, Chris Koster, said Thursday that Serrano-Vitorino would be prosecuted first for the Missouri killing and that Montgomery County’s district attorney, Nathan Carroz, had asked his office to assist in the case. Carroz did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Chris Schneider, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Wyandotte County, Kansas, said he wasn’t aware of any arrangement about which state would prosecute Serrano-Vitorino first.
But Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder told The Associated Press that “we intend to keep him in the state of Missouri through the trial.”
Both states have the death penalty, though prosecutors haven’t said whether they would pursue it. Kansas, which has nine men on death row, has not executed anyone since it reinstated capital punishment in 1994. Missouri, which has 28 condemned inmates, has put 18 people to death since 2013.
Authorities haven’t discussed a possible motive for the attacks, though Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman said the Kansas killings did not appear drug-related.
A probable cause statement filed with the Missouri complaint against Serrano-Vitorino alleges that he confronted Nordman on Tuesday morning in Nordman’s garage, and the two struggled over Serrano-Vitorino’s rifle. As Nordman’s wife ran for safety inside the house and called 911, she heard a gunshot and saw a man running away, the statement read.
Serrano-Vitorino was deported from the U.S. in April 2004 because he was in the country illegally, but he re-entered at some unknown time, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But since then, he has avoided deportation despite legal run-ins that have included a battery conviction last summer in Kansas City, Kansas.
In the run-up to his deportation, a felony complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court charged Serrano-Vitorino with making criminal threats against a woman with a rifle in February 2003. The threat was “so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific” in conveying that he’d kill her immediately, the complaint said. It also accused him of assaulting the woman with a firearm, but the complaint offered no details.
The Los Angeles Police Department declined Thursday to provide a police report. Superior Court spokeswoman Elizabeth Martinez said the threat charge was dismissed during plea negotiations, and Serrano-Vitorino was sentenced in April 2003 to two years in prison for the assault charge.
Nordman’s relatives said in an emailed statement Thursday to the AP that “we want answers!” from U.S. immigration officials.
Nordman’s sister-in-law, Deanna Dunn, wrote that Nordman died a hero, yelling out to awaken his wife and have her seek safety as he grappled with the intruder and managed to free the magazine from the rifle, “all before Randy was shot with the only bullet left in the chamber of the gun.”
“It’s a tragic and senseless crime that has forever created a hole in our hearts, and our lives will never be the same. We may never heal from this,” she wrote, eulogizing Nordman as an affable and “good man, a salt of the earth kind of person.”
Associated Press writers Heather Hollingsworth and Bill Draper contributed to this report.
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