YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Attorneys Wednesday clashed over whether the downtown shooting death of a man last September was self-defense.
Assistant Prosecutor Martin Hume told jurors before Judge Anthony Donofrio in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that Johnny Serrano, 24, of Campbell, was lying in wait for 32-year-old Yarnell Green when he shot him to death early Sept. 18, 2022, at Hazel and West Federal streets after they were both kicked out of a downtown bar for arguing.
Serrano’s attorney, David Betras, however, told jurors that his client did not want to shoot Green but did want to fistfight him, but he was forced to shoot him when Green pulled a gun.
Jurors began hearing testimony Wednesday in Serrano’s trial. He is charged with aggravated murder, murder, involuntary manslaughter, being a felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm inside a liquor permit premises for the shooting death of Green.
Jurors were selected Monday and on Wednesday, they visited the crime scene before opening statements took place.
The only thing both sides could agree on is that Serrano and a group of friends and Green and a group of his friends were kicked out of a downtown bar about 1:40 a.m. after they got into a heated verbal argument inside the bar and that both men had guns with him.
“It happened because Yarnell Green had the gall to disrespect Johnny Serrano in a club,” Hume said in his opening statement.
Hume told jurors that Serrano and his friends went down an alley and hid behind a building. He said jurors will see Serrano hiding behind a building for over two and a half minutes with a gun and that he ambushed Green without warning.
“It certainly wasn’t an act of self-defense,” Hume said. “It was an ambush. It was essentially an assassination.”
Hume added that Serrano’s girlfriend and one of her friends will testify that Green was shot with no warning as will another witness who was walking on the street when the shooting took place.
Betras said some of Green’s friends will testify that words were exchanged between the two and Green was reaching for his gun when he was shot. Police found his gun next to his body.
Serrano was waiting for Green to fight him but did not want to shoot him, Betras said.
“You’ll see what happened. They were just there,” Betras said. “It was Green who went for his gun. It happened that fast,” he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. “Johnny never wanted to shoot that man.”
Betras said the argument in the bar started because Serrano walked up to Green’s ex-girlfriend and said, “It’s hot in here,” which set Green off, Betras said.
Hume said jurors will see several videos of the shooting and the events that led up to it.
Betras said jurors will also get to hear from his client, who will testify in his own defense.