Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ballard Found Guilty of Second Degree Murder

Jennifer Shutt
Staff Writer
Daily Times

SNOW HILL -- James Edward Ballard has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Russell Matthew Bailey III, an 18-year-old who was stabbed last fall in Pocomoke City.
Worcester State's Attorney Beau Oglesby said he will ask for the maximum sentence of 30 years at an upcoming sentencing hearing.

"If I could ask for more, I would," said Oglesby after the jury returned its verdict.

Ballard was originally charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault after the Sept. 29 stabbing death of Bailey near Pocomoke Middle School. Oglesby said he respects the jury's verdict of second-degree murder.

"Considering the facts of the case and the evidence of the case, we can understand it," said Oglesby.

Jurors began deliberating just after 11 a.m., with an outburst from the defendant fresh in their minds. During Oglesby's closing statement, Ballard began arguing from the defense table, saying he was "irritated." While being removed by deputies Ballard threw several pieces of paper into the air.

"I called the police every time," Ballard said in court. In interviews before the trial, his family members said Ballard had arguments with Bailey and a few of Bailey's friends in the weeks leading up to the incident.

During just over an hour of deliberation, jurors weighed lengthy witness testimony including that of three men who said they saw a gun present during the fight between Ballard, Bailey and Martel Blake.

Several witnesses said at least three men threw rocks and spit on Ballard minutes before the stabbing.

After Ballard called the police, witnesses testified, the men throwing rocks ran away. After the police did not arrive for several minutes, according to witness testimony, Bailey returned to the 700 block of Ninth Street, where he met Ballard and a fight began.

Deangelo Townsend was the only witness on the street during the fight, according to public defender Burton Anderson. Townsend said he saw Bailey with a gun tucked into his hip area during the fight. He did not testify that he saw Bailey remove it or threaten Ballard with the gun.

"Just the mere presence of a gun is enough for a reasonable person to fear getting shot," said Anderson during his closing statement.

Ballard will remain in jail until he is sentenced in about 60 days.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another outstanding job done by Beau Oglesby. I was holding my breath thinking the jurors were going to find the self defense theory plausible and come back with an aquittal. But then again jurors usually can see through the smoke and mirrors, but still it only takes one.....