Originally charged with second-degree murder which carries a potential life sentence if found guilty, a Coral Springs woman had the charges against her downgraded to second-degree manslaughter after prosecutors said they reviewed the evidence and the law.
The suspect, Yvonne Serrano was arrested late last November after calling 911 when she said she discovered the body of Daniela Tabares in her driveway with one foot still in her car at 6:00 in the morning. At the time police arrived at her home Serrano told them she was leaving for the gym when she stumbled upon the dead woman’s car and body that was found with a gunshot wound to the center of her forehead. At the time police noted that Mrs. Serrano wasn’t dressed for a gym outing.
During initial questioning by police Serrano told them that she remembered going to a local bar with her friends the previous night, blacked out and woke up in her bed. At the time she could not detail to detectives how she got home from the outing the night before.
Due to the downgrade of the charges against Serrano she now qualified for a bail hearing as opposed to when she was facing the murder charge which holds no possibility for bond.
It was later revealed that the previous night the suspect had been out with a group of approximately eight other women in addition to Ms. Tabares who was known as a fitness fanatic.
The evening began at a Coral Springs gym followed by the group all going to a movie and then out for drinks at a local bar, the World of Beer. At one time supposedly all nine women were members of a group from the gym known as “Fit Bodies Forever-Training for Warriors” although according to some of the women Serrano’s membership was previously suspended. Yet she showed up on what turned out to be a fateful November night.
As police continued questioning Serrano at what appeared to be the scene of the homicide her story began to morph when she changed her account of events of her morning discovery. She now told detectives that she remembered waking up in Tabares’ car without any recollection of the events that got her home or the particulars from the previous evening.
An initial search of the car uncovered a spent Lugar 9 mm shell casing in the front passenger seat floorboard of Tabares’s vehicle. At this point police decided to continue their interview of the subject at the police station.
As detectives resumed questioning Serrano, she added three more key details from her original edited story. She told them that she had in fact been in possession of her 9 mm pistol the previous night (Earlier during the interrogation, she denied bringing a weapon out with her to the bar). She went on to tell them that she owned a total of three firearms.
She also admitted to washing a white lace blouse she had been wearing the night before when she woke up in the morning (Previously, police noticed her touching a damp tank top in the laundry room of her home).
She also came clean telling detectives that she erased all footage captured on her video doorbell app for the past twenty-four hours whose recording would have been able to be retrieved footage that could possibly display what actually happened during the time period in question.
At this point she was placed under arrest for a charge of second-degree murder for fatally shooting her acquaintance. In lieu of what appeared to be overwhelming evidence against her when questioned in mid-December officials did not make it clear why the original charge of second-degree murder was reduced to manslaughter.
Many from the group of women when interviewed by the press said it was the first time, they were aware of Serrano being part of their circle of friends. And a few didn’t have much good to say about their encounter with her.
One woman, Caroline Miller simply stated “It was bad energy”. She went on to say it was the first time she ever set eyes on Yvonne Serrano. However she continued by saying that her first impression was awful: “Aggressive. It wasn’t fun. She was grabbing guys. She had a lot to drink.”. At one-point Miller said she saw Serrano balancing three drinks at a time. She said she also watched Serrano grab a young man as he was approaching Ms. Tabares who was just twenty-one-years-old.
Serrano seemed to make others uncomfortable as well according to Miller. She went on to say that she tried to distance herself from the woman for the rest of the night, but Serrano was hard to ignore.
“She was intense,” said another gym member Andrea Kammarada. “It was this intense vibe and I just remember thinking, ‘Did I do something?’”
As it turned out, Serrano attended predawn classes at the same gym on a regular basis but was not considered to be among Tabares’ friends.
Another of Ms. Tabares’ friends told police she received a text message from her at 1:25 a.m. that only said, “I’m taking Yvonne home”. This would prove to be the last correspondence which was received while Ms. Tabares was still alive.
Surveillance video from inside World of Beer showed the two women laughing and drinking inside the bar at around the same time the text message was sent. As the evening neared its conclusion it appears that Serrano had been sitting alone outside World of Beer and wanted Tabares to join her, but at that time Tabares apparently didn’t want to. But at some later time soon after she relented and joined Serrano at an area outside the establishment.
The video shows them leaving the bar together but couldn’t capture the mood.
Previous footage taken from inside World of Beer on the night of the gym outing shows Serrano passing out shots and personally drinking three of them. In addition to the shots she was also observed downing three bottles of beer, according to the Assistant State Attorney prosecuting the case.
At the bond hearing held at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale the prosecution told the judge that Mrs. Serrano’s husband told them that too much alcohol had an adverse effect on his wife.
Doug Serrano said one or two drinks caused his wife to become giddy and lighthearted. And even a third kept her mood in check but when she exceeded that limit, she grew angry and her mood always began to darken. Mr. Serrano went on to explain that one case of her alcohol abuse led to an episode of physical assault; telling the Broward State Attorney’s Office that he witnessed one such attack directed at one of their daughters.
The Assistant State Attorney speaking to the judge said that Mr. Serrano said his wife got so drunk at times that blackouts became a frequent situation. Mr. Serrano filed for divorce, a month after his wife’s arrest in late December of last year.
Approaching the bench, one of Serrano’s lawyers said to the judge that there was no disputing the facts that a death occurred. “The bottom-line judge is we have a client who doesn’t remember; could it have been an accident, could it have been self-defense? We know an act happened. We just don’t know how it happened.”
Tabares’ friends and family fervently contested Serrano’s release from jail while she awaited trial showed up to display their outrage. To emphasize their annoyance close to fifty people staged a protest in Coral Springs, holding banners and calling for Serrano to remain behind bars.
More than forty of Tabares’ friends, family and others packed the courtroom during the hearing to vehemently oppose Serrano’s attempt to receive bail. The deluge of Tabares’ supporters was so many in number, several of them were turned away and remained outside the courtroom during the ninety-minute hearing.
As it turned out, they were all disappointed when the judge postponed her decision for bond. According to the judge her non-ruling was based on her gaining a better grasp of where Mrs. Serrano would be staying as she awaited her trial date. The judge also questioned how many firearms Mrs. Serrano would have access to as well as her financial situation leading up to the court case.
In essence, for now the judge deferred her decision. She let it be known that another hearing on the subject will be scheduled for the near future.
Until then, Mrs. Serrano will remain incarcerated.
Michael B. Cohen, Esq. is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney whose expertise in homicide cases is extensive. As a former Assistant State Attorney for Broward County, and an Assistant United States Attorney for the government, Mr. Cohen clients receive the best sought possible outcome refuting any charges alleged by the State of Florida or the Federal Government. Working for the prosecution prior to founding his criminal defense practice in the private sector has given him a superior advantage that will result beneficially for those who seek his help. If you, a family member, or close friend is charged with any type of homicide, call Mr. Cohen at the earliest possible time for a free case evaluation.