Man convicted in stabbing death heads to Iowa State Penitentiary Wednesday

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Milton Jermaine Cole Serrano, Jr., 21, of Muscatine, was arrested by the Cedar County Sheriff's Office on July 19, 2020 for the murder of Chantz Stevens, 19, of Wilton, near Clarence in rural Cedar County.

Milton Jermaine Cole Serrano, Jr., 21, of Muscatine, was arrested by the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office on July 19, 2020 for the murder of Chantz Stevens, 19, of Wilton, near Clarence in rural Cedar County.

A 22-year-old Muscatine man convicted in a Wilton man’s death at a party last year will be transferred Wednesday from Dubuque County Jail to Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa.

A jury found Milton Serrano Jr. guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday in connection with the stabbing death of 19-year-old Chantz Stevens on July 19, 2020, in Cedar County. The trial was held in Dubuque County as a change of venue, court officials told Local 4 News.

Serrano has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder and guilty to the charge of second-degree criminal mischief.

Sentencing for both the second-degree murder charge and the second-degree criminal mischief charge is set for Oct. 29 in Cedar County Court, court administrators told Local 4 News.

A pre-sentence investigation will be conducted, court records say.

Violence at a party

Milton Serrano Jr. attended a party at a home on Quincy Avenue in Clarence, which is in rural Cedar County, during the early morning hours of July 19, 2020, an arrest affidavit says.

After he “keyed’ a silver Toyota Camry – resulting in about $1,000 in damage to the car – he was confronted by other people at the party and told multiple times to leave. Serrano got into a fight with another person, and others broke up the struggle, the affidavit says.

Serrano then said he had a knife in his pocket and threatened to stab other people at the scene.

He then got into a fight with Stevens. “When the altercation went to the ground, Milton Serrano Jr. retrieved a knife from his pocket and stabbed Stevens twice in the abdomen,” the affidavit says.

Someone took the knife away from Serrano, who then made a reference about going to his vehicle and getting a gun.

Other people convinced Serrano to leave the area, then travel to Muscatine.

Stevens, who had two puncture wounds to his abdomen, died from his injuries, the affidavit says.

A social-media post

Later that morning, Serrano posted to social media about being involved in a fight and stabbing someone.

In the post, Serrano had what appeared to be dried blood on his person and he brandished a knife that “appears consistent with witness accounts of the knife used in the stabbing.”

The knife in the social media post had what appeared to be blood on its blade, the affidavit said.

Serrano was found at a residence in Muscatine and admitted to law enforcement he had been involved in a fight during which he stabbed a person. He further admitted the knife should be in the residence, where law enforcement found it.

A search warrant was served at the residence and clothing consistent with what witnesses described was seized, the affidavit said.

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