BOWLING GREEN - Wood County Prosecutor Ray Fischer said yesterday he believes his office secured "a better deal for the victim and the state" by working out a plea agreement with a Bowling Green man who killed his girlfriend last February.
William Ball, 36, will not be eligible for parole until 2031 after he pleaded guilty to felonious assault and involuntary manslaughter with a repeat violent offender specification in connection with the Feb. 29 stabbing of Michelle Descant, 24.
On Thursday, Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey sentenced Ball to 27 years in prison with credit for the year he has spent in the Wood County jail. He also dismissed Ball's original indictment for murder.
"Had we just proceeded to the murder charge and got a conviction, it would have been 20 years to life," Mr. Fischer said. "I can't say what the Adult Parole Authority will be doing in 20 years, but it's very possible he could have been out in less than 27 years."
Mr. Fischer said that had the case gone to trial, a jury also might have convicted Ball for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, which only carry 10-year prison terms.
Ms. Descant's family members - several of whom gave emotional victim-impact statements before the sentencing - agreed to the plea bargain, Mr. Fischer said. Ball's defense attorney, Peter Halleck, initially approached the prosecutor's office about a plea agreement for Ball, whom he said cooperated with investigators from the beginning.
Ball called police on a non-emergency line and confessed to killing Ms. Descant in the hours after her death. Prosecutors said she might have survived had Ball called for help sooner.
In court Thursday, Ball said he thought about the murder every day and still could not understand how it happened.
"I am so, so very sorry and I know that sounds so hollow," he told the victim's family and friends.
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