MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 26, 2013

City man to remain in prison for manslaughter

Parole board refuses to free Ballard in 2004 slaying of Cannon

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board said Monday that a Muskogee man convicted of a 2004 manslaughter was denied early release.

Maurice Ballard was convicted in 2005 of stabbing Jonathan “Scott” Cannon nine times, killing the 22-year-old, during a street altercation in the 1600 block of Baltimore Street.

Pamela Stonebarger, Cannon’s mother, said before last week’s hearing that she thought Ballard, now 37, deserved to spend every day of his nine-year sentence in prison. She called the outcome, which she learned of at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning via a phone call, “a victory.”

“I feel like it was a real victory for Scott’s justice and of course a real victory for Scott’s family and friends,” Stonebarger said.

Ballard’s sentence is set to end Sept. 9, 2014. He was on the first stage of the hearing process, where the board receives a report and makes a decision whether to pass the offender to stage two.

Stonebarger said a number of Cannon’s friends and family wrote letters to the board, detailing why they believe Ballard should remain incarcerated.

“We wrote about what Maurice had stolen from us, our son, a brother, a grandson,” Stonebarger said. “We told how it’s affected our lives, how our lives are forever changed. How nine years wasn’t enough time anyway, so (Ballard) definitely deserves to spend the full sentence the jury gave him.”

During his trial, Ballard’s attorney claimed self-defense, saying Cannon charged him after beating Joseph Owaidat unconscious. Owaidat had allegedly argued with Cannon while Owaidat was holding a machete.

Ballard was not charged by then-Muskogee County District Attorney John David Luton, but a grand jury indicted Ballard, who was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.