LEBANON, Ind. — A man that pleaded guilty to seven different charges in connection with Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett’s death was sentenced Thursday.
John Ball was sentenced to 46 years imprisonment Thursday. This comes after Ball pleaded guilty to seven charges, including providing the gun used in Pickett’s shooting death on March 2, 2018.
Pickett was killed as he rounded the corner of an apartment building in pursuit of Anthony Baumgardt who fled after Lebanon Police tried to arrest him for his role in a drug deal.
Prosecutors argue that John Ball gave Anthony Baumgardt the weapon prior to the shooting with knowledge that Baumgardt was not eligible to buy one. Baumgardt pleaded guilty to shooting the deputy. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In the days after the killing, with Baumgardt in custody, Ball fled to Western Indiana where he continued to facilitate methamphetamine deals via social media, all the while confirming his role in the deputy’s murder.
“It was kind of my fault,” read one social media message that was introduced into the record during his sentencing hearing. “That was my boy that shot him. He was my runner. Damn near my little brother.”
Judge Petit cited Ball’s concern for his friend and lack of remorse for Deputy Pickett as an aggravating factor in the sentence that was handed down.
“All of us lived through when Jacob Pickett was murdered,” admonished the judge, “and it affected us all.
“Your own words tell me what your intent was,” said the judge, dismissing Ball’s stated remorse and apology to the Pickett family in the courtroom.
“You’ve given a firearm to someone you’re giving drugs to.
“What on earth could’ve come from that situation besides tragedy?”
Ball’s attorney, Melissa Garton, told the Court that her client had a troubled childhood and that the two months leading up to and including Deputy Pickett’s murder were a single dark chapter in his life.
Judge Petit noted that when Ball was arrested during a traffic stop in Putnam County eleven days after the killing, he was found in possession of methamphetamine with a loaded gun at his feet in the car.
Garton asked for consideration of Ball’s guilty plea in exchange for the dismissal of a murder count but Judge Petit wasn’t convinced.
“I do not accept the argument that you could not have been convicted of murder,” he said. “You absolutely could have been convicted of murder.
“If you had not been there, it wouldn’t have happened.”
With a 30-year sentence on a charge of dealing methamphetamine followed by a 16-year sentence on the gun charge, Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood said Ball received only seven years less in a prison term if had been convicted of murder. Ball was also sentenced to two years on a previous meth conviction.
“That day will live on forever in this community,” said Eastwood, “and he was part of this community and he played an active role in causing that action, yet he continued to commit crimes and the same crime and to him it was a game. So today the game played him.”
Ball’s family shed tears in the courtroom when the sentence was announced.
A third suspect, John Baldwin, Jr., who accompanied Baumgardt on the fatal drug deal and police pursuit, still faces trial and has an April court date for a change of venue hearing.