VERSAILLES — Jury selection in the trial of a man charged with murder and first-degree sodomy of a 6-year-old Winchester boy resumed Monday in Woodford County after a judge decided last week to move the case from Bourbon County.
Lewis "Buck" Ballard, 51, has been charged in the death of Wesley Dylan Mullins, whose body was found Aug. 4, 2007, in a garage on Main Street in Paris.
Efforts to seat a jury began last week in Bourbon County, but Circuit Judge Rob Johnson decided Thursday to move the trial after realizing how many people there knew about the case — and a non-profit endeavor being built in honor of the victim. Many potential jurors also had formed opinions about Ballard.
About 115 potential jurors filled a Woodford County courtroom Monday morning. They were divided into smaller groups to return throughout the week for individual questioning. Many potential jurors who were questioned Monday were asked to return Thursday morning.
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Others were excused for various reasons including personal obligations during the next few weeks or because they said it would be difficult to presume Ballard was innocent at the start of the trial. Several of the potential jurors interviewed Monday were familiar with newspaper and TV reports about the case. One man, as did many others, remembered only that the slaying happened in Bourbon County. And several said they recently heard the case was moved to Woodford County.
A woman who was asked to return Thursday said she had not formed an opinion about the case and would hate to see an innocent person convicted or a guilty person not punished. She said she understood someone's life was in the balance.
If convicted, Ballard could receive the death penalty.
Johnson also questioned potential jurors Monday about the sentences that would be available if Ballard were convicted.
Johnson asked jurors if they could consider imposing all five possible penalties: 20 to 50 years in prison, a life sentence, prison without probation or parole for 25 years, life without the possibility of probation or parole, and the death penalty.
The majority said they could consider the full range of penalties. However, one man said that he believed in Jesus Christ and that life without the possibility of probation or parole was as far as he could go.
Jury selection is expected to continue Tuesday. Lawyers are expected to start opening arguments Thursday.