Bourbon County

Judge hands Paris man life sentence in boy's murder

PARIS — The man convicted in October of sodomizing and killing a 6-year-old Winchester boy stood silently Tuesday as he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole.

Lewis "Buck" Ballard, 51, declined an opportunity to speak in Bourbon Circuit Court. Circuit Judge Rob Johnson gave Ballard the sentence recommended by the jury that found Ballard guilty of killing Wesley Dylan Mullins.

The jury decided not to suggest that Ballard receive the death penalty. Johnson could have imposed a lesser sentence than what was recommended.

Wesley's body was found Aug. 4, 2007, in his grandfather's garage on Main Street in Paris. The boy was staying for the weekend with his grandfather, Bobby Mullins. Mullins died in November after a long illness.

Prosecutors said Ballard killed Wesley because he had sodomized him and did not want the boy to tell anyone. A grand jury indictment said Ballard killed Wesley by repeatedly striking him in the head with a blunt object or by striking his head against a fixed object.

But Ballard maintains that he is innocent, and he plans to appeal the conviction, his attorney, La Mer Kyle-Griffiths, said in court Tuesday.

Kyle-Griffiths requested the sentencing be postponed because a sex-offender evaluation did not include testing of Ballard's intellectual functioning. She said this testing was needed for treatment to be considered.

Kyle-Griffiths told the judge that treatment issues would become important if the murder conviction were overturned.

But Johnson said he would not make any decisions based on what might or might not happen following an appeal. He said there had already been enough IQ tests done in the case.

Wesley's mother and father spoke briefly about their lives since the boy's death.

Stephanie Moore, Wesley's mother, cried as she read a brief letter.

"This is the hardest thing anybody can go through," Moore said.

She said parents are not supposed to bury their children.

"I will never be the same," she said. "I try so hard every day for my other son."

Wesley's father, Jason Mullins, told the court the boy's smile was taken away from the family forever.

During sentencing, Johnson said the case was one of the hardest he'd ever seen, adding that the prosecutors' evidence was horrendous and graphic.

Wesley's relatives hugged and cried as they left the courtroom. Several of them planned to visit Wesley's Place, a structure being built to house non-profit organizations on Main Street in Paris where Wesley's body was found.

"Our son has a little bit of closure, and our family has a little bit of closure," Jason Mullins said.