Lehigh Valley

No new trial in 2006 case of mistaken identity killing

Paul Serrano took second guilty plea deal

EASTON, Pa. - There will be no new trial for a man who pleaded guilty to carrying out a botched gangland hit in Bethlehem a decade ago. Instead Paul Serrano has again pleaded guilty.

But this time he has a shot at freedom down the road. 

Paul Serrano was granted a new trial because the federal law changed concerning juveniles convicted of first degree murder receiving automatic life sentences.

A horrific crime back in 2006 was set to be heard at the Northampton County Courthouse once again.

Paul Serrano was charged with killing Kevin Muzila, who was 15 at the time, in Bethlehem, a week before Christmas.

Serrano was 17-years-old at the time.

He says the shooting was payback from a gang, but he went to the wrong home and killed the wrong person.

To be spared the death penalty, Paul Serrano pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but a change in federal law regarding mandatory life sentences for juveniles allowed a new trial.

Days before the new trial there was a new plea agreement.  Paul Serrano pleaded guilty to first degree murder, only this time he was sentenced under the new law.

"This puts the maximum of life and 35 years minimum which is consistent with the law and it allows us to put closure on this case for the second time," said John Morganelli, Northampton County District Attorney.

Serrano has been credited for time served, meaning he is eligible for parole in 25 years, but Morganelli says that is not a guarantee Serrano will be released at that time.

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