PARIS — The murder trial in which a Paris man is accused of killing a 6-year-old Winchester boy nearly two years ago has been rescheduled because a defense attorney said he needs more time to prepare for the case.
Lewis Ballard's attorney Jason Pfeil, a public defender from Henderson, said he needed more than three months to prepare for the case, which had been scheduled to begin Aug. 5. Pfeil told Circuit Judge Robert Johnson that, unless the case were moved, he would have to withdraw because he would not have enough time to prepare, which could present him with an ethical dilemma. If Ballard were found guilty, Pfeil said, Ballard could argue that he had had ineffective assistance.
Johnson scheduled jury selection to begin Oct. 7 in Ballard's case. Johnson said opening statements would probably begin Oct. 12.
Pfeil called October a compromise, saying he would prefer that the case be moved to March.
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Ballard, 50, said he would rather stay in jail while his lawyers prepare to defend him in the capital murder case than face problems during an August trial, Pfeil said.
He is charged with murder and first-degree sodomy of Wesley Dylan Mullins, whose body was found in a garage at 1406 Main Street in Paris on Aug. 4, 2007.
Pfeil was appointed to the case in mid-May after Ballard's public defender, La Mer Kyle-Griffiths, told the judge she would not be available in August because she is pregnant.
Kyle-Griffiths had asked Johnson to move the trial at least twice. Each time, he refused. Johnson said Kentucky's Department of Public Advocacy would have to find someone who was available in August.
On May 14, lawyers from the department asked that the trial be moved so that the newly appointed attorney, Pfeil, could have more time to prepare. Johnson denied the request.
Johnson has said the public "loses faith in the judicial system when it takes more than two years to bring a case to trial."
The trial was rescheduled to February 2009 from an October 2008 date because of delayed lab test results. In January, the trial was moved to Aug. 5 because defense attorneys said they needed more time to test forensic evidence.
On Friday, he said it appeared that his order in April for the department to find an attorney who could be ready for the August trial was not taken seriously.
Damon Preston, the department of public advocacy trial division director, said 60 percent of cases in which the defendant is sentenced to the death penalty are reversed because of situations like these.
"We don't want to try this case twice," Preston said.
He said the department did not think Johnson's April ruling denying a continuance because of Kyle-Griffith's medical situation was proper.
Before rescheduling the trial, Johnson read a checklist of other court proceedings on his calendar that might have to be bumped because of the new date.
He said moving Ballard's trial "means other people's lives are being affected."