Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Saranac Lake Murder Suspect To Pursue Insanity Defense

Angela BallA woman charged with murdering her ex-lover in Saranac Lake in November plans to raise an insanity defense, according to Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne.

Champagne said Angela Ball filed a notice of the defense strategy last week. As a result, each side will hire a psychiatrist to examine the defendant. If the prosecution expert concludes that Ball was sane at the time of the killing, Champagne said, the case could go to trial as early as this fall.

If both experts agree that she was legally insane, Ball will be committed to a psychiatric institution for at least a year, Champagne said. Thereafter, her fitness for release would be reviewed every two years.

Under New York State law, a person raising the insanity defense must prove that “as a result of a mental disease or defect, he lacked substantial capacity to know or appreciate either:

“1. The nature and consequence of such conduct; or

“2. That such conduct was wrong.”

Champagne said it is a tough legal burden to meet. “Basically, it boils down to whether a person can appreciate right from wrong,” he said.

Indeed, the New York Times reported last year that few defendants in the state succeed when raising the insanity defense. “Of 5,910 murder cases completed in the last decade statewide, only seven defendants have been found at trial to be not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services,” the article said.

Ball, who is twenty-nine, pleaded not guilty in January to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault. She is accused of beating Ward Wilbur with a baseball bat and then stabbing him with a knife in an apartment in Saranac Lake on the morning of November 25. Wilbur was sixty-five.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported that Ball told police she and Wilbur had lived together in a cabin outside the village, but the relationship deteriorated after the couple stopped having sex. “Ward’s libido wasn’t working and he became very angry over it,” Ball said in the signed statement.

Ball said Wilbur would become aggressive at times. According to the Enterprise, she told police that he would rip her clothes off, force her to have sex, and threaten her with knives and axes. On the morning of the killing, she told police, Wilbur showed up at her apartment with a steak knife, grabbed her by the hair, and threatened to kill her, according to the Enterprise. She said she beat him with the bat and then stabbed him repeatedly in self-defense.

Questions about Ball’s mental health were raised in another Enterprise article that linked to a pair of YouTube videos in which Ball describes her painting of a farmhouse where she says she was molested as a child. In the videos, she claims to have discovered, after the fact, images in the painting of famous people such as George Washington. Abraham Lincoln, and Mother Teresa. However, the images are not apparent to the viewer. The videos can be seen here and here.

Public Defender Thomas Soucia could not be reached for comment today.

Photo: Angela Ball after her arrest.

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Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

4 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    If we were taught to appreciate and respect every living thing on this planet…from the trees we cut down to build yet another shopping center,to the animals we mow down on the roads… just maybe we wouldn’t be so violent towards one another. Just maybe if we would stop dropping bombs on little girls and boys and their mommies and daddies in foreign lands there’d be less violence in our own homes. Some people will say there’s been violence since recorded history began.True that but there’s also been people who have respected others and all living things on earth.Why does it always have to be war and violence? It doesn’t have to be.We just have to be taught different.There’s not enough money in that I suppose.

    • Bill Ott says:

      Amen Charlie S. One of my first memories was of me asking my mother about the end of the Korean War. Grew up in the Eisenhower years and he hated war, but grew up listening to war stories from my assistant scout master and others. War movies all over TV. I was swept up by it all, volunteered/joined the army, in Vietnam for a year, never cared for war or guns after. Now it is all just guns guns guns, murder murder murder all the time. Does TV follow life or the other way around. Is there anything anybody can do to change this?

  2. Charlie S says:

    Television is a great distractor Bill.I haven’t owned one in 25 years…I’ve got better things to do with my mind.Everywhere you go a tv is captivating an audience,in stores,bars… They even have them at gas pumps down in Duchess County I saw for the first time two summers ago. When couples buy new homes what is the first priority,where is much of their energy invested? The tv room of course.And how about the guy who lost his house down in Rockaway (?) during the Sandy storm! What stood out the most about what I read was him telling the newspaper man “I had a tv in every room” as if that was something to be proud about! You wonder why so many people are mindless,why so many mindless acts.Television is part of why so many people walk around with empty in their eyes.

    I can go on and on about this and what all of the other electronic gadgetry is doing to what’s left of people’s minds,but I’m sure you know Bill. Peace to you!

  3. THE WOLF MAN says:

    BLUNTSON !!!