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DA wants comptency hearing for Michael Ballard

Morganelli files petition to request hearing

EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli wants to schedule a competency hearing for convicted mass killer Michael Ballard.

He filed a petition in Northampton Court Monday that asks for a hearing for Ballard.

Morganelli said the hearing would be in front of a judge who would interview Ballard to make sure he understand his rights to appeal.

"He needs to know he can defend himself and it must be determined that he is competent to do that," said Morganelli., adding that would bar federal public defenders from intervening on Ballard's behalf without his consent.

The district attorney said a date for the hearing will be up to the judge assigned to the case.

In 2011, Ballard pleaded guilty to killing four people inside a home in Northampton in June 2010.

Ballard was given four death sentences, one for each victim: his ex-girlfriend, Denise Mehri; her father, Dennis Marsh; and her grandfather, Alvin Marsh at their home in Northampton. Ballard also killed neighbor Steven Zernhelt, who heard cries and came over to help.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently denied an appeal filed on behalf of Ballard and ruled that Ballard's lawyer must explain why he filed that appeal without Ballard's knowledge.

Ballard wanted the appeal retracted.


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