“The bottom line is, you took a life,” Federal District Judge Amos Mazzant told Jordan Ballard Monday as the judge sentenced the 25-year-old to 120 months in federal prison on a felon in possession charge.
“I believe you are a dangerous person,” Mazzant continued in a hearing during which Ballard’s attorney Seth Kretzer had asked for time served on the federal charges that have kept Ballard housed at the detention center in Fannin County under federal orders rather than at the Grayson County Jail.
In Grayson County courts, Ballard faces murder charges in the shooting death of Justyn Simmons, 26, outside the home Ballard shared with his girlfriend in the 600 block of West Monterey Street in Denison back in April of 2015.
In December of 2016, Federal District Judge Amos Mazzant sentenced Jordan Ballard to 30 years in prison after Ballard pleaded guilty to several counts of felon in possession charges from that same shooting. During a two-day sentencing hearing, Mazzant heard testimony about what happened on Monterey that night and found it was more likely than not that Ballard was lying in wait on Justyn Simmons and his brother Victor, who Ballard also shot at. Mazzant found that Ballard’s behavior amounted to first degree murder.
In May of 2017, a document from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said, “that the joint stipulation of the parties to summarily vacate appellant’s sentences and remand case to the district court for resentencing is granted.”
In court on Monday, when talking about the one count of felon in possession of weapon that his client has now pleaded guilty to, Kretzer said the crime was more like involuntary manslaughter than the first degree murder that Mazzant had used to determine Ballard’s 30-year sentence back in 2016.
Prosecutor Lesley Davis Brooks said the facts of the case haven’t changed. The evidence that was heard in federal court hadn’t changed and she urged Mazzant to stick to his original ruling that the death that occurred was first degree murder. She said Ballard had a history of being violent with women and had every opportunity to avoid a fight with the Simmons brothers instead of increasing the violence.
Kretzer presented documents that showed his client has been attending religious and parenting classes while behind bars and that he has, previously, obtained his GED. Then his client addressed Mazzant and apologized for his behavior the last time he appeared before Mazzant. He said he couldn’t go back and change what he has done in the past, he can only go forward striving to be a better person.
The 120 months, Mazzant assured Ballard, will include the time he has already served and would run concurrently with any state jail sentence he might get should he be convicted of the murder and the other related charges he faces in state court. However, Mazzant said, any charge that Ballard draws on a separate charge of assault family member with previous conviction pending in the 15th state district court would run back to back with the federal sentence if it is not dropped and if he is convicted of that charge.
Last week, First Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Kerye Ashmore said he is not really sure when Ballard might face those state court charges. Grayson County court records show Ballard does not have any hearing dates pending on the murder charges.