Ex-teacher in North Syracuse School District gets appeal heard in murder case

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A panel of State Supreme Court judges Monday heard an appeal in the murder case of a former North Syracuse School District teacher.

Last summer, the Grand Jury indictment of James Ball was thrown out by an Onondaga County Court Judge.

Rather than ask a new Grand Jury to formally charge Ball with murder the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office is arguing to an Appeals Court in Rochester to simply let that first indictment stand.

A panel of five judges in the Fourth Department of the State Supreme Court Appellate Division heard the case.

They are considering whether or not Ball’s defense team should have been able to call Mrs. Ball to testify a second time, as the lower court agreed they should have been able to do.

One of Ball’s lawyers, Michael Spano, says, “The law does give the defense the ability to request the Grand Jury hear from a particular witness. It doesn’t say that we have to ask the People or the DA, it says we can request the Grand Jury hear from a particular witness.”

He says Mrs. Ball would provide more detail about what happened at their house the night Christopher Ross was shot and killed.

Ross, Ball’s brother-in-law, was shot to death after the two men got into a physical altercation after a night of drinking at the Ball house.

The Ball’s maintain they forced Ross to leave, which he did, only to return to try and get back in the house.

They say at that point James Ball had gone to get a gun, load it, and shot Ross in self-defense.

“It’s our position that his permission to be there had been revoked by both his behavior and physically removing him from the house and telling him not to return and he came back in with the intent to commit an assault,” Spano tells NewsChannel just outside the Rochester courtroom where the appeal was heard.

Ball was not in court Monday, he remains free on bail but still charged with murder.

The Court will now issue a written decision, which could come in weeks or even several months from now.

Ball has retired from Smith Road Elementary School where he worked.

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