LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- The courtroom was quiet Thursday morning as Timothy Ballard, co-defendant in the murder case of Alex Johnson, described the victim’s last breath after police say he was beaten in the back of a car.
“He gurgled and that was it,” says Ballard, imitating the sound coming from Johnson before he took his last breath.
Prosecutors say that last breath was taken in the back of Mark Taylor’s car before Johnson’s body was shoved head first into a barrel, then rolled by Ballard into the Kentucky River.
Ballard took a plea deal in the case which has produced a murder trial for Taylor. Defense attorneys for Taylor questioned Ballard Thursday about his deal which includes 20 years to life in prison, as opposed to the death penalty which Ballard testified he was warned he would get.
The defense also took the opportunity to point out what it calls, “inconsistencies” in Ballard’s testimony. Ballard gave the jury details of what he claims Taylor said in the car.
“He said he was going to choke him and then beat him,” recalls Ballard. “He asked me to drive.”
With defense able to question Ballard as well, attorneys went after Ballard’s story to police, comparing it to what he said in front of the jury. It was also then, defense attorneys questioned Ballard about two inmates in the Fayette County Detention Center, asking if he’d admitted killing Johnson to them.
“You wouldn’t have told him that you beat the hell out of a guy and he died from it,” questioned one attorney.
Ballard denies sharing that information.
“And isn’t it true that you told Mr. Coffey you stopped at a stop sign while driving and Mark was in the back seat and the victim was in the passenger seat and you looked over your shoulder and started hitting the passenger with a baton?”
Again, Ballard denies.
In addition to testimony from Ballard, a key witness in the case, prosecutors showed video of the moment the barrel containing Johnson’s body was found and pulled out of the Kentucky River.
Court will resume Monday at 8:45 a.m.