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Stevie A. Ballard, 23, convicted of firing gun at car receives 11-12 years in prison

Man convicted of firing gun at car receives 11-12 years in prison

YOUNGSTOWN — Stevie A. Ballard, 23, of Campbell, read various Ohio laws to Judge Anthony Donofrio of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and described aspects of his case to try to persuade the judge to give him a light sentence.

For his four convictions in a Nov. 22, 2021, incident on Westminster Avenue in Austintown in which he fired a gun at a man in a car, he got 11 to 12 years in prison with credit for close to two years in the Mahoning County jail awaiting trial.

Ballard was convicted at trial of felonious assault, discharging a weapon on or near prohibited premises, carrying a concealed weapon and having weapons while under disability and two gun specifications.

“None of this is fair,” Ballard told the judge before learning his sentence. “I go look into the law book myself, and I look up the Ohio Revised Codes that the prosecutor sends to me on the paper,” he said.

Then he cited what the law says about burden of proof, then said “There was not from any detective, not from any police officer nothing, nothing. The only thing they had was Ms. Berry that said she knew me from my walk.”

He was referring to a witness who said she was walking her dog when she saw a man shooting at a car 10 to 15 yards away from her. She said she recognized the shooter from seeing him coming and going from an apartment building across the street and because of the way he walked.

He said he had never been in a car accident or had any injuries to his legs.

Then Donofrio said Ballard got a fair trial and his lawyers did a “phenomenal job defending you in this matter, but the bottom line is the jury came back and found you guilty based on the evidence that was presented.”

Ballard said a reason he was giving that information was for “putting it on the record for my appeal.”

The man in the car was Trayshaun Hill. Hill, 22, who pleaded guilty to having weapons under disability, tampering with evidence and receiving stolen property in the case and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The car involved was stolen.

Berry did not know Ballard personally, but “had seen (Ballard) almost every single day she lived there,” Hilles said.

The woman Ballard mentioned testified that she recognized Ballard immediately as he was walking down the street toward the woman’s house on the day of the gunfire. She knew his walk, what he looked like, his build, all different characteristics, said Kyle Hilles, an assistant county prosecutor, said during closing arguments.

The shooter was wearing a mask, but the woman knew for certain it was the defendant she witnessed shooting that day,” Hilles said.

Hilles mentioned another woman who lived on Westminster who told police Hill was driving the car and “knew who the shooter was. Stevie had shot at Tray right in front of her house at 66 Westminster Avenue,” Hilles said.

That woman was “terrified of Stevie Ballard,” but told police he was the shooter, Hilles said.

Nick Cerni, one of Ballard’s attorneys, told jurors in closing arguments that the woman thought “She’s got this case correct because she’s been casing the joint, right? She knows a couple of people who are coming and going in that apartment complex and she doesn’t like it. She’s got her eye on it,” Cerni said.

“She’s starting to piece together things from her prior personal experience,” he said. When she first started to talk to officers, she did not right away indicate to them she knew who the shooter was, Cerni noted.

Cerni said there was a “discrepancy” in terms of what Berry said the night of the incident and when she testified in the trial.

The woman could be heard on a body camera recording saying “The only reason I think it’s (Ballard) is because I was sitting on the porch one day and I watched him come out with his girlfriend,” she said. Then Berry described the man putting a gun in the trunk of a car.

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