Man sentenced in Vail road rage case
EAGLE — A New Mexico man is going to prison because, while he was driving a stolen car, he opened fire on another motorist with an illegal handgun during a road rage incident.
For that crime and others, Jose Manuel Serrano-Lerma, 30, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted first degree assault and illegal discharge of a firearm.
Serrano-Lerma pleaded guilty on Aug. 12.
“Prompt action by the Colorado State Patrol and the Vail Police Department averted a tragedy in this case,” said Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum. “Road rage incidents are far too common and when they are combined with firearms the chance that someone, including innocent citizens, will get injured increases exponentially.”
Serrano-Lerma claimed he was trying to get an aggressive driver to back off him, Thea Reiff, Serrano-Lerma’s attorney with the Public Defender’s Office, said during his plea hearing.
Serrano-Lerma was having trouble passing another car, driven by Cody Reed Holland, as they were headed east near Glenwood Canyon on Interstate 70.
In the police report, Holland admitted to police that he wouldn’t let Serrano-Lerma pass, and that he would parallel other vehicles on the road to keep Serrano-Lerma from passing. The two rolled along as NASCAR wannabes from about mile markers 133 to 176.
About the time they hit the main Vail exit, Holland looked in his rearview mirror and saw Serrano-Lerma brandishing a handgun, a silver revolver.
Holland was in the left lane and Serrano-Lerma was in the right as Serrano-Lerma began to draw even. As they neared the East Vail exit, Serrano-Lerma fired one round from the handgun, a .357 revolver. Serrano-Lerma fired from his open drivers side window, and hit Holland’s car in the right front fender, near where a female passenger was riding in Holland’s car.
When Holland realized his car had been shot, he stopped and called 911. Neither Holland nor the woman were injured.
The Colorado State Patrol and Vail police quickly caught Serrano-Lerma and the woman riding with him, Chelsey Jacobs. Both Holland and the woman identified Serrano-Lerma as the shooter, and said they did not see Jacobs brandishing the weapon.
A quick check with the big cop computer found that Serrano-Lerma was on probation in New Mexico, a felon convicted on multiple charges, and was wanted in New Mexico on another felony warrant.
Police found the gun stuffed into the center console of the stolen car Serrano-Lerma was driving. The gun’s serial numbers had been obliterated and were unreadable.
Car stolen at gunpoint
The white Mitsubishi Serrano-Lerma was driving turned out to be stolen at gunpoint, the owner bound, gagged and kidnapped in Las Vegas, Nevada (the victim later escaped). It was carrying fake license plates.
Serrano-Lerma told police at the scene, “I don’t know why you’re holding her. I’m the shooter,” according to police reports.
Jacobs was taken to the Vail Police Department, where she initially said her name was Lucy Serrano-Lerma. Then she said her name was Cheri Ann Jacobs, which turned out to be her sister.
When they figured out who she was, they also learned she was wanted in New Mexico on felony charges.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.