IOWA CITY — A former Muscatine man who spent more than a decade in prison for a brutal 1990 attack that paralyzed the mother of his two children learned Thursday that a prosecutor has charged him with murder after her recent death and, if convicted, he could go back to prison for life.

Hiram Serrano Sr. forced his way into Theresa Jackson’s Muscatine home on Nov. 14, 1990, slashed her throat and stomped on her neck, leaving her a quadriplegic, Muscatine County Attorney Alan R. Ostergren said. The couple had recently broken up.

A jury convicted Serrano of attempted murder and willful injury in 1991, and he was sentenced to a prison term of up to 35 years. Serrano was released from prison on parole in 2004 after serving about 13 years, Ostergren said. Jackson died on Oct. 5 at age 43, and Serrano was arrested Thursday in Iowa City on a warrant charging him with first-degree murder.

Ostergren said his office took another look at the case after becoming aware of Jackson’s death. He said an autopsy found that she died of hydrocephalus, or a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling. The medical examiner ruled the death was a homicide because the condition stemmed from injuries to the neck and spinal cord that Jackson suffered in the 1990 attack.

Serrano, 48, made a court appearance Thursday in Muscatine and was ordered jailed on a $500,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled March 4. The charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole; Iowa does not have the death penalty.

Ostergren said that prior case law makes it “quite clear” that in situations like this, a defendant can be charged again in the same attack. He said the murder offense was not completed until Jackson died, and so the charge does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on double jeopardy, or prosecuting someone twice for a single offense.

“Obviously, it’s an unusual set of circumstances,” Ostergren said. “It is unusual to have a situation where the victim dies almost 22 years later, from the original injuries, after the person has already been convicted of some crime associated with it.”

He said his research turned up one prior case in Iowa where a person was convicted of child abuse and then charged with murder after the child died years later.

A judge appointed the public defender’s office in Davenport to represent Serrano. The supervisor of that office didn’t immediately return a phone message Thursday afternoon.

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents and Muscatine Police officers arrested Serrano without incident while he was running an errand at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Ostergren said. It is the same hospital where Jackson died months ago.

(22) comments

Chum64

The judicial system is bs. How are you going to charge murder 20 yrs after the attack. I'm not saying what he did is right but, murder 20 yrs later? That's crazy

Jeffrey Smith

Under the law, you cannot charge someone with murder, until they are dead. This woman suffered for 20 years. Since she has passed on, of course the man can be charged. Nothing crazy about that.

onmygrid

your wrong i know the family that this guy has messed up he deserves to be in prison and i know the woman that died from her injuries so dont be say stuff like that he deserves everything thats gonna happen to him

cd1001

I see her 6 year old little boy found her in a pool of blood after this guy cut her throat. Wow.

dougboo

I think it a money hungry lawyer trying to ge more of our money trying a case that has been tried. When the victim has forgave him he will have to live the rest of his life with the memory of what he has done leave it alone

cd1001

We don't only prosecute people for crimes the victim is angry about. If that were the case, criminals would just choose only very nice victims.

This guy got off easy before, and this woman not only lived out the rest of her life as a quadriplegic, but her life was shortened because of him. I'll shed no tears if he spends the rest of HIS life in prison. Better than a wheelchair, unable to move anything other than his head.

AmandaHart
AmandaHart

HE didnt paralize her, the HOSPITAL did!!

cd1001

He put her into the hospital and into the situation. If he hadn't attacked her viciously, she would be alive and walking around right now.

cd1001

From everything I see, she was paralyzed when he stomped on her neck. There is nothing about the hospital causing it. I think the dude lied to you, Amanda.

Jeffrey Smith

Perhaps you could learn about the law - that lawyer is the state attorney or county attorney - he makes the same amount of money whether or not he prosecutes this case.

cd1001

It's not double jeopardy. Had she died back then, they would have charged him with murder and he would have spent the rest of his life in prison. It is the same incident, but it is not the same crime. The law is very clear on this.

Czechmate

I believe that the Muscatine County Attorney is stretching this case like a rubber band. 22 years after the fact and a conviction for Attempted Murder and Willful Injury - a prosecuter will get one bite out of the apple! Bailaw, what are your thoughts?

AmandaHart
AmandaHart

I personally know this man and NO he DOES NOT deserve to be charged for murder simply because his victim (my daughter's Grandmother) recently died from said conditions! He had served his time for his attack on her when he was young and dumb. He simply made a terrible mistake, did his time AND has been living with his mistake ever since!! The victim forgave him LONG ago and still accepted him in her life with NO regrets, knowing thats not the man he really was!! They were VERY close and spent a good amount of time together throughout the years since he was released.She welcomed with open arms!! He was ALWAYS helping her with whatever she needed even if she didnt feel he had to. He NEVER stopped trying to "make it up to her"!! And she NEVER felt he owed her anything!! This is NOT what she would want to happen to him! She would NEVER blame him for her sudden death!! He is the NICEST, most hardest working man i know, and DESERVES that second CHANCE he has been given, NOT a second CHARGE!!

1of3

Amanda, Im glad to know that he was man enough to try to find ways to make amends for his actions and that she was able to find forgiveness in her heart. It sounds like he has turned his life around since the time of the attack. While i do feel that a person who is sentenced to 35 years in prison should not be allowed to get out in 13 years. I also feel it is unjust for them to come back and now try him for murder. I think that if enough of her family members were to write letters to the prosecutor and the judge hearing the case explaining her feelings and how he has made amends to her it could make a significant change in the way they move forward with this case. I hope in the end they find a resolution that is fair to all involved.

onmygrid

i hear you on that and i know the family too she was an amazing woman and would be walking around right now if it wasnt for this guy

erikqc

He did a crime. It wasn't murder. He did the time. The effects of his actions have lead to this, but he should not be charged with another crime he did not do. This is double jeopardy, plain and simple. He should be charged in civil court, not criminal court.

I don't agree with what he did. 13 years behind bars is obscene for what he did. But still, the law is the law. The ability to charge someone later with a new crime they did not commit is just begging for abuse by the criminal justice system.

1of3

Don't get me wrong,, he deserves to be in prison,, Im outraged that he only had to spend 13 years in prison on a 35 year sentence. Im just surprised they are able to charge him again for the same crime. I understand that he was not charged with Murder the first time, but it is still the same criminal act that he will be tried twice for.

ChamPain
ChamPain

I also think its a little weird. Seems like being charged twice for the same crime. Either way, I'm no attorney, and I hope he spends the rest of his life in prison. Unbelieveable he only did about 13 years on a 35 year prison sentence...

1of3

Hmmm while this guys actions were horrendous,, I do find it a little wrong that he could be charged again for the same crime.

Contemptio

He wasn't charged with murder the 1st time.

writingmomma

Correct! He deserves to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. When you take a life, you should be willing to give yours!

Serranojr

I am Theresa son and this has gone left field if I had seen this three years ago I would have comment Amanda is right he did not murder my mother and if you do your research what there saying she died from would have happened with in a few years after the accident and not 22 years later and yes the hospital did paralyze her a few months after she was on her way to recovery he did his time muscatine county needs to let it go

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