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Angel P. SERNA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 29, 1947
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: May 19, 1923
Victim profile: A woman
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Pinal County, Arizona, USA
Status: Executed by asphyxiation-gas in Arizona on July 29, 1950
 
 
 
 
 
 

ANGEL P. SERNA

Dear Warden Walters:

The above-named individual is a twenty-eight year old Mexican male. He was interviewed today in the cell at the Arizona State Prison where he is awaiting execution.

He is a small but muscular man with intense dark eyes. He sits quietly on the edge of his cot and answers questions somewhat slowly, often with a preliminary "What" or "What did you say", requiring the examiner to repeat the question. His glance is intense and expresses a mixture of uncertainty, defiance, and apprehensiveness.

His responses are laconic but relevant. There is little evidence of anxiety or flight of ideas nor of blocking. The frequent hesitation before replying is associated with a slightly defensive and suspicious manner, but the replies, although under-productive and laconic, appear to be truthful.

Questions concerning his past elicit the fact that he was the fourth of eight siblings, and was born in Franklin, Arizona. He said that he reached he sixth grade at about age fifteen. He admitted that he had not liked school nor been a good student. He was reluctant to go into my details concerning his past, both regarding his earlier life as well as his activities in life after leaving school. He said that his work was mainly on ranches; that he served from 1942 to 1945 in the ground forces of the Air Corps; that he received an Honorable Discharge: that his grade was privates and that he was twice court martialed for drunkenness He did not, throughout the interview give my information about himself spontaneously.

He stated that the first time he had ever got into trouble with the law was at the age of twenty-four and said, rather sullenly, that he had pled guilty, having been advised to do so although he was not guilty but merely among those present when a store was held up.

After having served his sentence for this offense he was out about a year. He said that he worked in the mountains on ranches, and again gave no details.

He stated that he had a preference for working away from others saying that he never liked to have a lot of people around: people made him "nervous". At the same time he denied questions directed at bringing out the presence of actual delusions of persecution or hostility on the part of people, saying that it was just the way he felt that he did not actually think that people were hostile toward him nor trying to harm him.

Concerning his crime he was particularly evasive and reluctant. He said that he was "accused of murder" but that he hid no recollection of the act. The only thing he could, remember was that he was drinking in a bar and was arrested later while sleeping at the roadside.

Concerning his present adjustment he stated that he had been feeling nervous of late. He complained vaguely of pains in the back of the neck and head and occasional darting pains in the face. He said that he sometimes doesn't want to talk to anyone and has the feeling that the guards are mad at him, yet he knows they are not mad at him because when he asks them for a cigarette or anything they give it to him, so he thinks it is just his 'nerves.'

Asked whether he thought he might be crazy he became quite hostile and tense and countered angrily that he was by no means crazy and what was the examiner trying to do--make him mad?

Throughout the examination he maintained an air of controlled and veiled defensiveness coupled with an uncommunicative attitude. He seemed to be acting out his concept of the stoic indifference of a condemned man. His emotional reactions were in the main blunted, but when he was made insecure by certain questions a volcanic outburst of anger seemed about to erupt. The examiner at these times changed the subject in order to avoid irritating the patient but the impression of emotional instability was definitely gained.

He was fully oriented to time, place, and person during the examination. Aside from the alleged amnesia concerning his crime, there was no evidence of an memory defects either in the remote or recent sphere. He became irritated when asked to do several calculations and was quite annoyed by questions directed toward evaluating his general knowledge and intelligence. He did rather badly in answering such questions and revealed what appears to be at best a border-line intelligence

His insight was extremely shallow. His attitudes of hostility and defensiveness and sullen defiance seem to be based on marked emotional immaturity and shallowness of insight. He seemed encased in a defensive armor and his attitude resembled that of a defiant, sullen, and inarticulate child. It was exemplified by his answer to the question as to what he thought should be done with him, which was "I don't care. I don't care what they do with me. It doesn't make any difference."

SUMMARY: This individual on examination today displays the characteristics of a man of borderline intelligence, and of immature self -circumscribed emotional development. His general mental trends me mildly paranoid and defensive.

His affect is blunted and shallow yet unstable. He is fully oriented and of sufficient intelligence to differentiate right from wrong. No evidence was elicited throughout the examination of psychotic ideas. Delusions and hallucinations, were denied and none could be elicited aside from the tendency to periods of feeling disliked by the guards, which the patient recognized as being subjective. This in itself, though a paranoid trend, does not make diagnosis of psychosis. In this case it is part of the personality patterns the so-called Constitutional. Psychopathic States with asocial and antisocial trends.

There is no evidence of actual psychosis i.e. leg& insanity.

***********

"Dear Governor Garvey:

I call on you personally to give the sight back to a four and a half year old boy who has lost the sight of one eye and within a month will have lost the sight of the other eye.

You we the one person that I ask to contact personally any prisoner, who is condemned to die, and ask if they will give up one of their eyes so that this young fellow may not be condemned to a life time of darkness.

With your salesmanship and broad views on humanitarianism I feel confident that you will take it upon yourself to personally contact either the warden or the prisoner.

This might seem like a big task considering all your other duties but the results would be such that I know you would gladly donate the time that is necessary to fulfill this request.

This young lad, that we are interceding for, is the youngest son of a Mr. Allie Hulker of 511 Wrights Ave. Augusta, Ga.

Mr. Hulker has exhausted all his funds trying to save the first eye of his boy, and is now entirely up against it.

I realize that this is unfortunate. but please remember, it is only someone like you that can give the eyesight back to this 7.5 year old. boy. I would appreciate an answer to this letter, letting me know if you feel as though you can be successful in this venture.

Yours very truly,

J B Mannelly

******

'The true name of the defendant above is Angel P. Serna. The crime for which he was tried and found guilty is Murder in the First Degree, with the punishment set at death.

The crime occurred on December 29, 1947, near Apache Junction, Arizona. On the afternoon of that day at approximately two o'clock the defendant appeared at the service station belonging to Mr. Donald Thompson, situated three quarters of a mile west of Apache Junction service station. Mrs. Ferrie Thomson together with her two daughters Bonnie Joan Thomson aged approximately fifteen years, and Margaret Thompson aged approximately nine or ten years of age. They were in the service station and store attending to business. There were some customers in the store at the time the defendant appeared, so he ordered a cup of coffee. Then he went out in back, apparently to the rest room, and when he returned the customers were gone.

He drew a gun on Mrs. Thompson and ordered then into another room. Mrs. Thompson who knew the defendant thought he was merely fooling, and when she realized that he was serious she told him the money was in the cash register. Then suddenly without provocation he shot her through the upper chest.

Mrs. Thompson and the girls fled out of the back door and in the direction of the Apache Junction Service Station. The defendant acme out the side and ordered them to stop running or he would shoot them again. They did not stop, and after about one hundred yards Mrs. Thompson was picked up by a passing motorist, and the girls continued on to Apache Junction where they reported the shooting.

The Officers of Maricopa County were first notified and then the Officers of Pinal County. After an extensive search the defendant was located and captured up near King's Ranch, which is approximately six miles in an easterly direction from Apache Junction.

During his wandering up there he was in possession of the deceased car and met a cowboy by the name of Paul Marchand. At that time he had blood on his shirt and on his trousers and asked this man to take him to Stafford. The man acted as if he agreed to it and went down to the sand tanks station where he contacted one of the officers and informed him of what had happened. In the conversation Serna had also told Marchand that he had shot two women that afternoon.

The officers, Highway Patrolman Ike Mulleneaux, Highway Patrolman Coy Beasley, Constable Earl Parrish of Chandler, and an army officer from Williams Field, drove up the road to Kingís Ranch W located the car. Soon afterwards the officers had scattered to look through the brush, leaving Mr. Parrish in charge of the car. The defendant appeared around a rise a short distance from the car, and Mr. Parrish after ordering him twice to drop the gun finally captured him. He was brought back to Apache Junction, together with the car of the deceased. At that time it was thought proper to investigate the residence of Mrs. Cohen. Upon arrival it was found that so was dead. She was lying across her bed, practically all her clothes off except a shirtwaist on the upper portion of her body. The back of her head was beaten in and there was a bullet wound through her left wrist and into her abdomen.

At the time of his capture the defendant was in possession of Mrs. Cohn's car, together with her billfold, a camera and other personal property belonging to Mrs. Cohn. Tracks Picked up neat the Thompsonís service station were traced through the desert south of the highway, across the highway and up to Mrs. Cohn's residence.

The gun in possession of the defendant belonged to cowboy living at Apache Junction by the name of Grady Haskins, and the bullet which shot Mrs. Thompson, and the bullet taken from the body of the deceased, Mrs. Cohn, were identified as probably coming from the same weapon, which was in the possession of the defendant.

Complaint was filed in the Justice Court of number One Precinct, charging the defendant with the crime Of Murder, a felony. He was tried on the 11th 12th and13th days of May 1948, in the Superior Court of Pinal County, and was by the jury found guilty of the crime of Murder in the First Degree and the punishment set at death. On the 22nd day of May, 1948, the defendant was by the Court adjudged guilty and sentenced to be executed on the 13th day of August 1948. The defendant has filed Notice Of Appeal to the Supreme Court. He was previously convicted, and served a term for the crime of burglary in the  Arizona State Prison

F. Preston Sult, COUNTY Attorney.

W C Truman, Judge.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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