Accused killer of state police special agent arraigned on capital murder charge

Accused killer of state police special agent arraigned on capital murder charge
Special Agent Michael T Walter (Source: Virginia State Police)
Special Agent Michael T Walter (Source: Virginia State Police)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The man accused of shooting and killing Virginia Police Special Agent Mike Walter last month was arraigned Thursday morning on capital murder.

27-year-old Travis Ball appeared via video conference during the preceding, which lasted five minutes. He told judge Beverly Snukals he "wasn't 
sure yet" if he could afford to hire an attorney, because he didn't have a steady income.

Due to the charges against Ball, Snukals appointed him a capital defender and a second attorney.

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring said killing a police officer for the purpose of interfering with his or her duties qualified for a capital murder charge, but it wasn't something he is taking lightly.

This is the second capital murder case since Ricky Gray was tried for the murder of the Harvey family back in 2006.

"You know capital murder cases, there is nothing pleasant about this. I don't want the public to think we are charged up to indict Mr. Ball or try him for capital murder. It is of necessity to take him to trial," said Ball.

On May 26, Special Agent Mike Walter was working alongside an RPD officer in Mosby court. The pair approached a car parked on Redd Street, which police say Ball was a passenger in.

According to court documents, the driver says Ball and Special Agent Walter got into a scuffle. The driver noticed a gun in Ball's hand near Special Agent Walter's head. That's when the driver says a single shot rang out and Ball ran away.

If convicted, Ball could face the death penalty. The city's top prosecutor says he hasn't decided yet if he will ask the jury  to consider the death penalty versus life in prison without parole.

"It's way too early to tell. I can't think of any of my colleagues, who have handled capital cases, who would be able to say, at this juncture, they are going to pursue the death penalty. We are still collecting evidence of the crime. Hopefully, as time goes on, we will learn more about the defendant, and then we can make an assessment of whether we think death is an appropriate request," Herring said.

In court, the judge said the charge against Ball involved the unlawful, "premeditated" killing of Special Agent Mike Walter. Outside of court, Herring did not elaborate on the evidence that could prove premeditation. Instead, he asked for patience as the case works it way through the justice system, and he also had a message for the community.

"Please leave the guns at home. Just consider we would likely not be standing here on the felony had the circumstances not involved a gun," he said.

If it goes to trial, Herring says it would happened in spring of 2018 at the earliest.

Ball is due back in court July 5.

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