DES MOINES, Iowa -- Susan Hartmann says the charges filed against her daughter do not fit with the woman she knows.
“Just complete shock, I couldn’t, I still can’t wrap my head around it,” said Hartmann.
Sera Alexander was active in the Renaissance fair and part of a science fiction group that donates to child reading programs. Now, she’s charged with the first-degree murder of her adoptive father Anthony.
Susan says her daughter had no criminal record or history of substance use, much unlike her husband.
“Tony has a very long, troubled history with alcohol and drug abuse, and he’s very physically and emotionally abusive,” she said.
Susan said she suffered years of abuse by her husband's hand, and Sera, her sister Amanda, and their brother had to witness it.
“It has always been very difficult to watch. He was more abusive to mom than to us, but he was still very emotionally and psychologically aggressive to anybody who was near him,” said Amanda.
On the day of the shooting, Anthony went to the home to pick up his tools. The restraining order against him had just been lifted. Susan had given her husband permission to be there, not knowing Sera was home.
“Sera didn’t know this. She’d been gone all weekend at the science fiction fair, so all she knew was he was in the house and she would have thought that restraining order was still in place,” said Susan.
What happened next would end Anthony's life. According to police, Sera admits to confronting Anthony and shooting him several times with a handgun. Anthony is said to have been unarmed, but Susan says her daughter must have feared for her life to pull the trigger.
“He had heavy tools that could be very dangerous. We’ve seen him fly across the room faster than you could ever see anybody move and go straight from being docile to violent and ready to hurt,” she said.
Susan and her daughter Amanda say they can only hope the state will reconsider the charges while the legal process plays out.
“I would like to see them dropped altogether. I think that there was reason for what she did and there’s enough history to support her response. I don’t hold any anger or unhappiness with her for what happened, and I trust her instinct” said Susan.
Sera is scheduled to be in court again one week from Friday. She remains in the Polk County Jail on a $1 million bond.