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Ball pleads guilty to manslaughter, faces 15 years in prison

December 22, 2017
By GLYNIS HART - For the News (ghart@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - Former Saranac Lake resident Angela Ball, convicting of murdering Ward Wilbur in 2013, pleaded guilty on Friday, Dec. 15 to a reduced charge of manslaughter in the first degree.

In April 2015 Ball was convicted and sentenced to 20 years to life for second-degree murder and 20 years to life for first-degree assault, but that conviction was overturned Oct. 19 by New York State Supreme Court, which ruled that Franklin County Judge Robert Main Jr. erred in denying key parts of Ball's defense. The court held that although public defense lawyer Thomas Soucia claimed Ball acted in self-defense, Judge Main's actions prevented him from effectively proving that she was in fear of her life.

Franklin County District Attorney Craig Carriero said Judge Main has committed to a 15-year sentence with five years of post-release supervision. Ball will be sentenced on Jan. 29 in Franklin County Court in Malone.

Article Photos

Angela Ball is escorted by a police officer in September 2014 during the murder trial.
(News photo — Chris Knight)

Carriero said that in conversations with Wilbur's family, "they understood going through another trial would have been an arduous process.

"This trial would have been a lot more difficult," said Carriero. "The justification defense means that we would have had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn't self-defense."

Wilbur died of multiple injuries on Nov. 25, 2013, after Ball beat him with a baseball bat and stabbed him in her apartment. Ball called 911 and told police when they arrived that Wilbur had threatened to kill her earlier that week, and that he had physically and sexually abused her over a period of time.

During the trial, Ball's defense sought to introduce a witness to a previous event in which Wilbur had allegedly assaulted her, but Main said that if he were to allow that witness he would also allow the prosecution to present witnesses that Ball herself had behaved violently toward other people. The Supreme Court ruled that introducing witnesses for the sole purpose of demonstrating Ball's "criminal propensity" was not allowed. It further took issue with Main's failing to provide the jury with instruction on self-defense as a justification.

 
 

 

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