Another full day of deliberating came and went Tuesday without a verdict in Jordan Ballard’s trial on murder charges in the April 2015 death of Justyn Simmons.
Jurors hearing the case in the 15th state district court are said to be close, but not quite there yet.
The foreman of the jury, one of only three men on the panel, told Judge Jim Fallon that they are close enough that they wanted to keep working on it. When Fallon asked if the foreman thought the jury would be able to reach a verdict on the murder charge, the man said he thought a verdict might be reached early Wednesday morning.
Jurors left shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday and will be back in their jury room at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The foreman reiterated that they have reached a verdict on the charge that Ballard committed aggravated assault when he repeatedly fired at Victor Simmons as he drug his bleeding brother across the street and attempted to save his life. The jury has also reached a verdict, the foreman said, on the special question of whether or not that gun Ballard wielded that night was a deadly weapon. The foreman did not announce what those verdicts are, and Fallon didn’t ask.
On Monday, Fallon read a note from the jury out loud in the courtroom. It said that they had reached the verdicts on the aggravated assault charge and the special question but were hung on the murder charge. Without announcing those decisions, Fallon read them what is called an Allen Charge. That is a statement in which he basically told the jury that each juror is encouraged to stick to their convictions, but also encouraged to try to open their minds to the points made by other jurors as they began a new round of deliberations. They were admonished not to change their votes simply to reach a verdict, however.
Already facing a 10-year federal prison sentence, Ballard could face up to life in prison if convicted of the murder charge. He could also face up to life in prison if the jury has voted to convict him on the aggravated assault charge and found that he used a deadly weapon in that assault.
Ballard has pleaded not guilty to the charge that he laid in wait and killed Simmons outside of a home that Ballard shared with his girlfriend in the 600 block of West Monterey Street in Denison.
He was represented in the federal case by Sherman Attorney Bob Jarvis and during the state’s murder case is being represented by Dallas attorney Larry Jarrett.
If the jury convicts Ballard of anything when it comes back with a verdict, there will be a sentencing hearing held for the charge or charges on which he is convicted. Fallon will hear that evidence instead of a jury.