Judge Admits System Failure in Reducing Suspect's Bail

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A judge acknowledges a system failure occurred when bail was reduced for a sexual assault suspect who later was accused of shooting his wife and abducting three daughters.

The suspect, Walter Ball Jr., 43, of Silver Springs, was fatally shot by one of his daughters after the crime spree on Wednesday, a week after his bail reduction hearing before Dayton Justice of the Peace William Rogers.

Ball was released from jail a day after Rogers reduced his bail from $250,000 to $100,000. Ball's court-appointed lawyer Lane Mills asked that bail be lowered to $25,000 but Lyon County Deputy District Attorney Chet Kafchinski countered by recommending it be set at $100,000.

Rogers, who also ordered Ball to stay away from his family, was present Friday when a videotape of the June 16 bail hearing was shown to reporters.

"We (reduce bail) on every case. The only reason you're here is because this time it was wrong," Rogers told reporters. "The system broke down."

Rogers said he raised Ball's bail from $155,000 to $250,000 after his May 27 arrest based on the seriousness of the charges in a police report.

Ball was accused of sexually assaulting his daughter on May 26 and holding a gun with a single bullet against her head. He allegedly pulled the trigger but the weapon didn't fire.

Rogers said rural counties don't have the court staff to independently research a case for information that helps set a defendant's bail.

Rogers said judges in rural counties must rely on what prosecutors and defense lawyers tell them.

"What changed in this case obviously was the $100,000 bail suggested by the district attorney's office," Rogers said. "They felt it was appropriate.

"The ultimate responsibility is the court's. Based on what I had, that was the bail that was set," he added.

During the bail hearing, Mills argued that Ball had no significant criminal history and that his family had roots in the community. Ball's parents posted the bail.

"Mr. Ball has a lot of community contacts, your honor," Mills said. "He has every reason to stick around."

Kafchinski said prosecutors would not object to lowering the bail to $100,000, but he acknowledged that Cindy Ball was afraid of her husband.

"I have had contact with Mrs. Ball," Kafchinski said. "She's afraid of him."

Both Kakchinski and District Attorney Leon Aberasturi were reported out of their offices and unavailable for comment.

Walter Ball is accused of shooting his wife in the face Wednesday morning before kidnapping his three daughters.

Cindy Ball, a nurse at Lahontan Medical Center in Silver Springs, was listed in fair condition at Washoe Medical Center in Reno.

Walter Ball was killed by one of his daughters after he fell asleep in his vehicle in a remote area of Lahontan State Park near Silver Springs.

No charges will be filed against the daughter, sheriff's deputies said.