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Lopez-Serrano

Denis Lopez-Serrano talks with his attorney Nathan Rivera during a preliminary hearing July 18 in Minidoka County Magistrate Court.

RUPERT — A man charged in the shooting death of a Minidoka man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a weapons enhancement.

Denis O. Lopez-Serrano, 22, formerly of Nampa, also pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree kidnapping and aggravated assault during a Thursday hearing in Minidoka County District Court, County Prosecutor Lance Stevenson said.

Stevenson said the state is free to recommend life in prison.

Lopez-Serrano was charged in connection with the shooting death of 42-year-old Rafael Gil Vargas and the shooting of Vargas’ daughter Nallely Vargas, who was Lopez-Serrano’s former girlfriend.

In a prior court hearing, officials said Lopez-Serrano lured Nallely Vargas out of her home in Minidoka to pick up the pair’s 2-year-old daughter and then waited on a road to kill her. When she arrived, she had her father, Rafael Gil Vargas, in the car with her. Lopez-Serrano shot Rafael Gil Vargas three times, fatally wounding him.

Lopez-Serrano drove the father and daughter to a remote location where he said he was going to kill Nallely Vargas and dump both their bodies, police said. Nallely Vargas testified that Lopez-Serrano pointed the gun at her father’s head during the drive and she placed her hand over the gun’s muzzle before he shot her hand.

She testified that she talked him out of killing her by saying she would not turn him in to police.

Lopez-Serrano was originally charged with first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping along with the aggravated assault charge.

A sentencing hearing in the case is set for 9 a.m. April 2 at Minidoka County District Court.

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