Drunk driving arrests often end up being more than just DUI charges in Michigan. Police officers never know what they will find in the car when they approach it. They often pull people over prepared for this particular traffic stop to be much more than a simple intoxicated driver incident. This was certainly the case for the police officer that pulled Nathaniel Jermaine Ballard over for drunk driving earlier this year.
Ballard was arrested on April 18th, 2016, for Operating While Intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 16. It was his third offense, and so he was charged and convicted for felony drunk driving. But Michigan law requires that if you are charged with a felony, you must submit to a DNA test. In Ballard’s case, the results were unexpected.
In March of 2000, the body of 39-year-old Patricia Lenee Leeper was discovered in a ditch near Curran, in Alpena County in northern Michigan. Known to her friends and family as ‘Pat’ or ‘Treece’, Leeper was a Flint resident when she was murdered. She had been convicted twice in 1997 for prostitution related crimes and police believed that her murder may have been linked to the deaths of two other women whose bodies were found near abandoned houses or fields.
Leeper’s autopsy showed that she had sustained several physical injuries and had been drowned. Although DNA evidence was found on her body at the time, police had no leads and couldn’t find a DNA match. Years went by and new leads were developed, however nothing panned out for the police investigators that were still hoping to find Leeper’s killer. With Ballard’s arrest came the possible solution to a 16 year old crime that has long been labelled a cold case.
Ballard’s DNA sample was entered into the Combined DNR Index System (CODIS) and discovered to be a match for the sample taken at the crime scene where Leeper’s body was found. Michigan State Police were alerted to the match and an investigation was started. Ballard, who is 40-years-old now, would have been 24 at the time of Leeper’s death.
MSP was able to get a warrant last week, and Ballard is now charged with Open Murder in the death of Patricia Leeper. On September 1st he appeared in court for his arraignment, and was granted a bail of $2.5 million. His preliminary examination has been scheduled for September 21st.
As experienced criminal defense attorneys who have been successfully representing clients in drunk driving cases for decades now, we understand that a drunk driving arrest can open the door for numerous other accusations. For this reason, it is critical that you have a skilled attorney on your side from the earliest possible moment. DUI cases often spiral out of control.
Whether you are facing charges for operating while intoxicated, DUI, drugged driving, impaired driving or any other crime in Michigan, contact us immediately at 866-766-5245. We can help you through this difficult time.