Lehigh Valley

Judge orders another medical evaluation for Michael Ballard

Ballard undergoing another psychiatric evaluation

EASTON, Pa. - One of the Lehigh Valley's most notorious killers headed back to court Friday to ask a judge to let him die, but the judge told Michael Ballard he's not ready to do that, just yet.

Ballard underwent three psychiatric evaluations in 2011. Ballard said he feels that's enough to determine if he's competent to make his own decisions, but a judge wants one more opinion.

Northampton County District Attorney, John Morganelli said he understands the decision.

"As a trial judge, he wants to make sure that he has someone here who understands exactly what's going on," said Morganelli.

Ballard confessed to killing four people in Northampton in 2010. He was sentenced to death, and wants to give up the right to appeal.

Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano did review three medical evaluations from Ballard's trial in 2011, but ordered one more.

"It's not necessary. I'm not incompetent, and at this point it just stalls the process further," Ballard said.

"The psychiatric evaluations are three years old," added Morganelli. "Things can change, but based upon my knowledge of Ballard, and of course his lawyers expressed their opinions that he is competent."

The judge did make one ruling: a temporary order that prohibits attorneys fighting against capital punishment from petitioning the court to be Ballard's legal counsel.

That's a move federal defender Billy Nolas from the Federal Community Defenders Office told the prosecution he would do.

In court, Ballard told a judge he didn't want Nolas as his attorney, then Ballard turned to Nolas and said, "You hear that?"

"I don't think it's a show," said Morganelli. "I think Ballard is very angry about these lawyers proceeding without him. Ballard is above average intelligence."

The DA said no matter how this case plays out, people need to remember the victims in the case and it is the prosecution's job to make sure the death sentence is carried out.

"So although he can be amusing in terms of ways he operates in the courtroom," said Morganelli, "I never lose sight of the fact that this guy is a danger. He's a vicious killer."

Nolas said he had no comment on the ruling.

The medical evaluation and a permanent order from the court should be done in 45 days.


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