A 41-year-old man who fatally shot a man in a Laramie parking lot in 2003 was sentenced to 12-18 years imprisonment this week after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter last year.
Fidel Serrano had appeared on an FBI’s Most Wanted List while he was on the lam for more than a decade.
After being brought back to Wyoming in 2018, Serrano was charged with first-degree murder.
However, prosecutors dropped the murder charge in exchange for Serrano pleading guilty to manslaughter after the man’s defense team offered a “sudden heat of passion” defense to the murder charge.
Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent told the Laramie Boomerang last year that the family of the victim, Ramon Galvan-Morales, was agreeable to the plea agreement.
Serrano took an “open plea,” meaning there was no agreement between prosecutors and defense attorneys on what sentence the defendant should receive.
Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but Albany County district court Judge Tori Kricken ultimately sentenced him to 12-18 years.
Two days before Serrano killed Galvan-Morales, the two had gotten into a fight at a dance in Cheyenne, witnesses told police.
Serrano’s attorney, Randy Hiller, said on Thursday that Galvan-Morales had claimed to have killed Serrano’s girlfriend.
The pair had been former co-workers at Rocky Mountain Forest Products on Laramie’s West Side. Serrano killed Galvan-Morales in the parking lot of the factory, which closed in 2007.
Before the incident, Serrano played guitar in a Mexican country-rock band called Los Navigates de Durango and worked at Big Horn Lumber.
Serrano, who immigrated illegally from Mexico, had been working at Big Horn Lumber during the morning of May 12, 2003, the day he killed Galvan-Morales.
During his Monday lunch break, he drove to Rocky Mountain Forest Products, where Galvan-Morales was eating lunch in his van.
Armed with an SKS semi-automatic rifle, Serrano confronted Galvan-Morales in the parking lot.
According to witness reports, Galvan-Morales grabbed a semi-automatic handgun from his van before Serrano opened fire.
“The defendant killed a human being in cold blood,” prosecutor Ben Harwich said while urging for the maximum sentence of 20 years.
Galvan-Morales was fatally stuck in the chest by two bullets and Serrano unloaded his clip, but the victim was able to fire off a few shots at Serrano before collapsing and dying.
According to the FBI, Serrano was also shot during the shoot-out. He fled Wyoming after Galvan-Morales’s killing.
Harwich said that, if Serrano didn’t receive a significant prison sentence, Galvan-Morales’s family feared retaliation.
In 2016, Trent was notified that the FBI had information about Serrano’s whereabouts and started an extradition process the same year.
Serrano arrived in Albany County in 2018.
Since that time, voluntary jail chaplain Rich Henderson said that Serrano is a regular attendee of Henderson’s church services and is now “a very devout Christian.”
“I know physically that this the same person who committed that horrific crime, but spiritually, emotionally and mentally, he is a completely different person … and not likely to hurt anyone in the near future,” Henderson said.
After killing Galvan-Morales and fleeing the U.S., Hiller said Serrano has been living a law-abiding life in Mexico.
“He has no other criminal history other than this case,” Hiller said.
Hiller said it’s likely that Serrano will be deported as soon as he is released from prison.