State’s request to keep convicted killer jailed pending new trial denied

For the third time in two weeks, the state of Michigan has lost its fight to keep convicted killer Dwayne Ballinger behind bars, the latest rejection coming from the nation’s highest court.

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied an emergency request by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to keep Ballinger jailed pending a new trial.

Ballinger, was convicted in 2006 of fatally gunning down two men in Detroit on the Fourth of July because they crossed into his drug-dealing territory. He was sentenced to life without parole, but released on June 18 after convincing a federal judge that his lawyer was ineffective at trial for failing to call his girlfriend as an alibi witness. The state has 90 days to retry to the case.

State attorneys pleaded with the judge — U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow — to change his mind, arguing that Ballinger is dangerous, and that he started threatening witnesses and relatives of his victims within hours of his release. Tarnow denied the request.

The state appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which also refused to lock him back up. So did the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We used every avenue available to return a convicted killer back behind bars,” said Schuette spokesperson Joy Yearout, noting the state will closely monitor Ballinger, who is free on a tether and prohibited from contacting any witnesses in his case. “If any evidence surfaces to suggest he violated those restrictions, we will immediately file a new motion to revoke bond and return him to prison.”

According to court records and courtroom testimony, since Ballinger’s June 18 release, the state Attorney General’s Office has received reports from multiple citizens that Ballinger had returned to the site of the killings and had been intimidating the family members of the victims.

Per affidavits read in court, Ballinger was seen in a dark minivan going past the homes of some of those relatives, including one who stated: “Personally, I fear for my life. I feel like I am a prisoner in my own home.”

State attorneys also said Ballinger went to a barbershop, inquiring where certain relatives and witnesses lived.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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