The jury that will decide Jordan Ballard’s fate got a chance to hear his version of the events that transpired on April 21, 2015 that left one man dead and Ballard on the run.
Prosecutor Britton Brooks played an audio recording of Ballard describing the night’s events to Denison Police detectives after Ballard’s then-attorney, Bob Jarvis, turned him over police. Ballard had been on the run for about a week at that point.
No one disputes that Ballard shot and killed Justyn Simmons and shot at his brother Victor. Jurors must decide whether they believe the prosecutor’s theory that Ballard was waiting on the brothers with the handgun with the intention to kill them or if they believe Ballard’s contention that he knew the brothers were on their way to do him harm and he only armed himself for protection.
During the first day of testimony Monday, jurors heard from Victor Simmons, who said Ballard fired on them even though they expressly stated they were only there to talk. On Tuesday, jurors heard Ballard tell the police that he kept telling the two Simmons brothers to stop where they were as they approached him and that he only fired after their failed to heed that warning.
“I know what kind of guys they are,” Ballard said to the detectives. “They kind of roughnecks. I felt like they were there to hurt me.”
He said they were walking aggressively toward him and he didn’t feel like he had any place to hide and even tried to take a step back, but the two brothers kept advancing on him.
“He just made that last move and I didn’t know if he was moving to grab (my) gun or to get his gun,” Ballard said and then added that he shot Justyn Simmons.
Ballard then said he shot at Victor Simmons a number of times. Ballard said the shooting happened after he had heard his girlfriend’s family was upset with him because he had slapped her in the face during an argument weeks before. The girlfriend, who was around six months pregnant at the time, had a busted lip from what he called an altercation. He said he had already discussed the situation with the girl’s mother and he and the girlfriend were at home watching a movie when the mother called and advised that the Simmons brothers, who were the girlfriend’s cousins, were on their way over there.
Ballard said he and his girlfriend decided they needed to leave before the brothers got there and the girlfriend went to her mother’s and he went to a friend’s house. The friend was not home and Ballard made his way back to the house. He said the front door was locked so he couldn’t get in that way but he thought the back door was unlocked.
At first, Ballard told Denison Police that he had thrown the gun he used to shoot Justyn Ballard in the Trinity River. Then he said that he knew that the gun was gone, but he didn’t do away with it himself. Ballard admitted that the gun he pulled from the bushes behind his home was his, but denied owning a gun police found inside the master bedroom closet in a bag with his identification. As a felon, possession of either gun meant Ballard had broken the law before any shots were fired that night.
At no time during the recorded conversation did Ballard sound emotional. Sitting in the courtroom, Ballard looked away when prosecutors showed photos of Justyn Simmons’ dead body but watched as a video of the aftermath of the crime played out in front of the jury.
Ballard’s current attorney Larry Jarrett spent the morning pointing out inconsistencies in statements given to law enforcement and in various hearings by state’s witnesses, including the woman who drove the Simmons brothers to Denison from Celina. Over and over again, Jarrett asked the woman if she were lying then or if she were lying now.
The case will resume in the 15th state district court Wednesday.