Ex-girlfriend testifies in trial

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 17, 2004

District Attorney John Andrews and defense attorney Charlotte Tesmer went head-to-head as proceedings continued in the capital murder trial of Westley Devone Harris.

Harris, 24, is accused of killing six of his ex-girlfriend, then 16-year-old Janice Denise Ball’s, family members, including Mila Ruth Ball, 62; her daughter, JoAnn Ball, 35; JoAnn’s common-law husband, Willie Hasley, 40, who also went by the name Willie Haslip; and their sons, Jerry Ball, 19, Tony Ball, 17, and John Ball, 14.

After Andrews finished questioning Janice Ball regarding the events of the Aug. 26, 2002 murdering spree and the days that followed before Harris’ arrest on Aug. 29 early Friday afternoon, Tesmer pointed out some apparent inconsistencies in her statements.

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During Tesmer’s cross-examination she revealed to the jury that Ball’s father, who Janice referred to as &uot;Fatso&uot; and her oldest brother, both had sexually assaulted the teenager. Tesmer later presented as evidence a notebook diary, which Ball confirmed was hers and written in her handwriting. An excerpt out of the diary stated: &uot;I could have killed everyone that put their hands on me.&uot; Ball later admitted during Tesmer's cross-examination that she was referring to her father and brother.

Tesmer also pointed out an instance where Ball &uot;lied&uot; to the jury after stating she didn’t know anyone in Dozier, when evidence presented during the trial proved that she had several friends including an ex-boyfriend in the small town, about 10 miles north of Luverne. Testimony revealed that Harris and Ball traveled to Dozier on many occasions following the murders in which several times she was left alone, but apparently never tried to flee her alleged abductor.

Ball was on the stand throughout the entire day last Friday.

Ball, also testified for more than two hours last Thursday, using most of her time on the stand to give complete details of the all-day killing rampage Harris is accused of committing in Rutledge just off County Road 1 where he shot the six family members with a shotgun. She went through the events of the day murder-by-murder with District Attorney John Andrews as Harris sat motionless at the defense table.

Ball, 18, said the events of the murder began to take place on Aug. 23 after she asked Harris to repay her for some money she let him borrow. She claimed Harris refused to give the money back, slapped her and left after an altercation with one of her three brothers. Harris, who has a daughter with Janice Ball, repeatedly made contact with her throughout the next couple of days and also broke into her bedroom leading up the day of the murders.

&uot;I guess he had heard that momma was going to press charges for breaking into the house,&uot; Ball explained in her testimony.

Ball said the killing spree began with her grandmother, 62-year-old Mira Ruth Ball, who she was living with at the time. She said the five other family members were murdered throughout the day while she was tied to her grandmother’s bed. She stated the final victim was her oldest brother, Jerry Ball.

Also taking the stand Thursday were Harris’ 19-year-old brother, Demetrius, his cousin Cassandra Cole and Malone Mitchell, who discovered the murder scene after visiting the home on Aug. 27. Upon arrival, they discovered the body of Tony Ball wrapped in a blanket covered with bugs in the closet of the brothers’ room. The trio returned home and Cole called the police.

Earlier this week, Crenshaw County Sheriff Deputies Ronnie White and Robin Daniels testified and a crime scene video featuring graphic footage was shown to the jury.

If convicted, Harris could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

The trial will continue at 9 a.m. today.