Sera Alexander Murder Trial Begins, Family Members Take Stand

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The trial for a Des Moines woman accused of killing her stepfather is underway.

Sera Alexander is charged with second degree murder. Police say she shot and killed her stepfather, Anthony Hartmann inside their home last May. Hartmann was at the family's home to retrieve some of his belongings.

Alexander's mother says Sera thought a restraining order was still in place against Hartmann, who she says had a history of domestic abuse. However, at the time of the shooting the restraining order had recently expired.

Much of the focus of Monday's trial centered around the knowledge of the no - contact order. Alexander's brother, Addison Hartmann says he knew the no - contact order had been lifted but tried telling Sera when she arrived home and found Anthony Hartmann in the basement.

"I was trying to let her know that some type of compromise had been made but at that point she was already trying to get Tony to leave and he was antagonizing her," he said. "He had a provoking tone, asking her to call her mother or the police and said the restraining order didn't mean anything." Hartmann adds, Anthony was holding a tool in his hand and turned towards Alexander in a threatening manner when the shots were fired.

During opening statements, prosecutors painted Alexander as someone who had intention to kill.

“His task was to collect tools necessary to fix his wife’s car. Mundane, a small act of kindness for the woman he loves. But what Tony didn`t know, what he couldn’t know was that while he was there, the defendant, his daughter Sera Alexander, had a lingering grudge. And that was the moment that she had been waiting for,” prosecutor Shannon Archer told the courtroom.

Defense attorneys say Alexander feared for her life.

She had planned to use Iowa's “stand your ground” law as a defense but a judge ruled against that since the law did not go into effect until after the shooting,

The trial will not go before a jury. A judge will determine the verdict.