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Judge sentences teen to long prison term in Coffeewood malicious wounding case

Judge Susan Whitlock has sentenced William Lamar Ballard, 19, of Hampton, Virginia to 50 years in prison but suspended 22 years leaving an active sentence of 28 years to serve for his role in the aggravated malicious wounding of a teacher at the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center on March 7, 2012. Whitlock further order that Ballard be on good behavior for a period of 30 years after his release from incarceration.

On March 7, 2012 Trooper Chris Brennan of the Virginia State Police was dispatched to the Culpeper Juvenile Correctional Center in Mitchells for a reported attack on a teacher by a student. Upon arrival Trooper Brennan obtained a videotape of the incident that showed Ballard, an inmate at the facility, strike plumbing instructor David Cornett in the head with a closed fist. Cornett then staggered back and then Ballard picked up a sink faucet and threw it at Mr. Cornett's head causing him to fall to his knees. Ballard then walked away toward the door and was taken into custody.

At trial on Nov, 19, 2012, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Dale Durrer presented videotape evidence and direct testimony from the victim. Cornett testified that he sustained significant and permanent injury from the attack, including a scar on the left side of his face, chronic headaches, memory loss, dizziness and sleep deprivation. Cornett lost his job teaching because of the attack and is unable to drive.

The advisory and non-binding model sentence guidelines recommended an active period of incarceration of 12 to 28 years in prison. Under Virginia law, a judge does not have to follow the guidelines, but if they give a sentence outside of them they must provide a reason in writing.

Commonwealth's Attorney Megan Frederick stated "My office asked for an active period of incarceration at the high end of the guidelines because of the tremendous impact of the crime on the victim and because of the importance of maintaining order in our correctional facilities. Any aggressive, violent behavior towards our teachers and correctional officers will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.”

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