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Father faces murder charge in deaths of his two children


Bodies discovered Saturday in Lancaster

A man has been charged with murdering his two young children and attacking another child at a home in Lancaster, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced this week.

Prospero Guadalupe Serna, 38, was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday in a Lancaster courtroom on two counts each of murder and assault on a child under eight causing death and one count each of attempted murder and child abuse.

The criminal complaint includes the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, along with allegations that he personally used a sharp object during the commission of the crime, personally inflicted great bodily injury on a child under five years old, and that he has a prior conviction from 2017 for unlawfully causing a fire of a structure or forest land.

Serna allegedly attacked three of his children, killing two of them, while he was in the residence with his four children and their mother on Saturday, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched at about 11:50 p.m. Saturday involving a call of children “being harmed at the location” in the 1800 block of East Avenue J-2, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies discovered that two of the children had been beaten and stabbed to death, and two other children–including one who was injured–were found hiding in the residence, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The dead children were subsequently identified as Serna’s 7-year-old daughter, Ziasia, and 3-year-old daughter, Najila.

Serna was detained a few blocks away, authorities said.

“Prospero Serna, the father of the children, was initially detained as a person of interest in the case,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement Monday.

“Homicide detectives determined there was sufficient evidence to arrest Prospero Serna for the crimes of murder and child abuse,” the sheriff’s statement said. “However, Prospero Serna is refusing to cooperate with sheriff’s deputies ... delaying his booking process.”

Serna could face a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 25 years if he is convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

“Two young lives were abruptly cut short in an astonishing act of brutality,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement announcing the charges. “This is a profoundly heart-wrenching tragedy that has shaken our community to its core. Our hearts ache for the innocent lives lost and those who will have to live the rest of their lives reliving a nightmare.”