A jury of nine women and three men deliberated for several hours Thursday without reaching a verdict in the trial of a Denison man accused of murder. Jordan Ballard will have to wait till at least Friday to learn if he will face a prison sentence for shooting and killing Justyn Simmons on April 21, 2015.
Already facing a 10-year federal prison sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm by having the gun that killed Justyn Simmons, Ballard could face up to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge that he laid in wait and killed Justyn Simmons outside of a home that Ballard shared with his girlfriend in the 600 block of West Monterey Street in Denison. The state contends Ballard shot and killed Justyn Simmons and fired on Victor Simmons, who was with him.
In closing arguments, Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Matt Johnson told the jury that most of the facts in the case are uncontested. That includes the fact that Ballard fired the shot that killed Justyn Simmons. So is the fact, Johnson said, that Ballard was a felon in possession of a gun. He had only been out of prison a matter of months before the shooting happened. Johnson said as someone who was breaking the law by having the gun, Jordan had a duty to retreat even if he felt threatened by the Simmons brothers.
Jurors have heard two explanations for the Simmons brother’s plans for Ballard. Those who testified for the prosecution said they just wanted to talk to Ballard. Those who testified for the defense said the brothers were known for preferring action over talking and were handy with guns.
Defense attorney Larry Jarrett said Ballard was at his own home when he heard the brothers were on their way over there. He left and tried to go to a friend’s house and then returned to his house.
“This man acted in self-defense. He didn’t go to them. He was at his home,” Jarrett told the jury.
He said there was plenty of reason for Ballard to think he was about to be attacked.
He said the state had not tried to rebut Ballard’s contention that the brothers were “walking aggressively” toward him and that they didn’t want to talk. Addressing the fact that Ballard ran from the scene that night and was wanted for five days, Jarrett said what matters is that Ballard came back and “to face the music. That is what a man does.”
When Johnson referred to Ballard as a “wife beater,” Jarrett said Ballard was ” a changed man” who was going to church sometimes.
“What else can a man do but try to make things right?” Jarrett asked the jury.
Jurors are expected to continue to consider Ballard’s fate at 9 a.m. Friday in the 15th state district court.