Sera Alexander Sentencing
On April 27, 2018, Sera Alexander was sentenced to a ten-year prison term for the shooting death of her stepfather, Anthony Hartmann. She had entered a guilty plea on March 7, 2018 during the third day of a bench trial on the matter. Ms. Alexander was convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Use of a Firearm Causing Serious Injury.
The evidence at trial showed that on May 8, 2017, the defendant came home after a weekend away and went to her upstairs bedroom to begin unpacking. She then heard Anthony Hartmann's voice downstairs. Months earlier, Mr. Hartmann had been arrested for assaulting the defendant's mother, and a no-contact order had been put in place, prohibiting his entry into the home. That no-contact order had since been lifted at the request of the defendant's mother, but the defendant was not aware of this on May 8, 2017. Once the defendant heard Mr. Hartmann's voice, she grabbed her gun from her dresser and went downstairs to confront him.
The defendant located Mr. Hartmann in the basement, where he was gathering tools to fix the defendant's mother's car. She pointed the gun at him and told him to leave. He responded that he was allowed to be there. She told him that if he didn't leave, she would call the police. He responded, "ok, call the police." She then told him that if he didn't leave, she would shoot him. To that he responded, "fine, shoot me." The defendant then shot three times, hitting him twice, causing his death. The defendant claims that Mr. Hartmann had turned toward her threateningly, but the autopsy showed that both bullets went into his back.
The defendant presented evidence at trial of a significant history of domestic violence in the household for several years. The defendant claimed to be the witness, and occasionally the victim, of such violence. Her attorney argued that this experience colored the defendant's reaction to the encounter in the basement on May 8, 2017. However, the defendant admitted that she acted too quickly, and that her actions were not legally justified.
The defendant was sentenced by the Honorable Scott Rosenberg. She was ordered into the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections for a period not to exceed ten years. As a convicted felon, she will not be permitted to possess a firearm in the future.
This investigation was led by Des Moines Police Department detectives Aaron Entrekin and Lorna Garcia. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Polk County Attorneys Shannon Archer and Kevin Hathaway with assistance from Diane Aldrich and intern Katherine Dick.
The trial and sentencing was held at the Drake Legal Clinic as part of the First Year Trial Practicum, a program that allows students at Drake Law School to observe a trial from beginning to end.