Garrett Ballard guilty in 2014 murders, receives life sentence

DANIEL CLIFTON • EDITOR

The trial of a man accused of murdering two people with the rifle of his father, a Burnet County constable, started this week in State District Judge Allan Garrett’s courtroom at the Burnet County Courthouse Annex in Burnet. Defense attorney Zachary Morris (left), capital murder defendant Garrett Ballard, and Ballard’s mother, Linda Ballard, walk into the courtroom. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

Defense attorney Zachary Morris (left), Garrett Ballard, and Ballard’s mother, Linda Ballard, walk into the courtroom on the first day of Ballard’s murder trial last week. Ballard was convicted in the 2014 killings of Elijah Benson and Travis Fox on Dec. 12. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

BURNET — A Burnet County jury on Dec. 12 convicted Garrett Ballard, 23, of capital murder of multiple persons in the 2014 killings of Elijah Benson, 17, and Travis Fox, 26.

Burnet County District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee did not seek the death penalty in the case; thus, under Texas law, Ballard will get a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

On Aug. 19, 2014, Ballard, Benson, and Fox were celebrating a birthday at the home of Ballard’s parents in the 5800 block of CR 340 south in Burnet County. Ballard used his father’s rifle in the murders of the two young men. Ballard’s father is Burnet County Precinct 3 Constable James “Jimmy” Ballard. Neither parent was home at the time of the killings.

Garrett Ballard admitted in the trial, which started Dec. 5 in State District Judge Allan Garrett’s courtroom, that he had used LSD prior to the two murders.

READ PREVIOUS STORY HERE

While drug use might have played a part in the crime, McAfee said it wasn’t the cause.

“The cause was the defendant, who made a clear choice,” the district attorney said. “He made a clear choice to kill those two young men.”

McAfee was aided during the trial by assistant district attorneys Kristen Sharpe and Peter Keim, whom he praised for their effort. But, McAfee said, the conviction was the work of many people, starting with the law enforcement officers who investigated the murders and ending with the jurors, who listened to the prosecution and defense before rendering a verdict.

“I’m really pleased with the jury’s verdict,” McAfee said. “The jury listened intently during the entire trial, hearing all the evidence and the facts. Then, they were able to use those facts to determine the defendant was guilty in the murder of Eli Benson and Travis Fox.”

Throughout the entire process, McAfee said the families of the two victims were continuously supportive of his office and law enforcement.

“It’s just a terrible loss for them, and they’ve been so strong,” the district attorney said. “The murders of Eli Benson and Travis Fox, it was a loss for the entire community. Murders are hard on everyone, the entire community.”

Though McAfee believes Garrett Ballard is responsible for the murders of Fox and Benson, the district attorney pointed out that the case also shows the harm drugs do in society, even locally.

“We just have to remain vigilant as a community when it comes to the use of drugs and how they destroy lives,” McAfee said.

daniel@thepicayune.com

9 Responses to “Garrett Ballard guilty in 2014 murders, receives life sentence”

  1. BRYAN DIXON says:

    Drugs had little and or nothing to to with this. THE REAL ISSUE IS GARRETS ACCESS TO HIS FATHERS SERVICE WEAPONS IN HIS FATHERS SQUAD CAR, A BURNET COUNTY CONSTABLE! IT IS NOW TIME, Wiley “Sonny” McAfee, TO BRING CHARGES AGAINST CONSTABLE BALLARD.

    • Theresa says:

      The weapons were locked in the trunk of his patrols car. If you lock something up, not even in your house, you should be confident you have secured them. Sounds like you have a personal vendetta against the constable.

    • Mary Sherrill says:

      That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard from someone. The father obviously had no clue his son was even capable of this. It’s not the fathers fault. It’s obvious that you probably just have personal problems with the Constable so please take that God awful opinion of yours somewhere else.

  2. John Harvey says:

    Why should his father be at fault? I don’t lock up my guns in my house. He was a grown man who committed a crime. Not his father’s fault.

  3. Theresa says:

    I would like to know, Mr. Dixon. If someone entered your home, retrieved keys to your vehicle, unlocked the trunk and retrieved a weapon, then proceeded to shoot someone with it, should charges be brought against you?

  4. BRYAN DIXON says:

    FIRST OFF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM AND UNLESS YOU WERE IN THE COURT ROOM YOU DON’T ****! WELL I WAS. DO YOU HAVE A GUN SAFE? DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE KEY IS? I DO AND THE ONLY ONE THAT HAS ACCESS TO IT IS ME! THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY IS PROTECTING YOUR GUNS FROM A *** LIKE GARRET. IF THE GUNS WERE YOURS AND THIS HAPPENED WOULD YOU FEEL ANY GUILT AT ALL? IF YES THEN YOU ARE A MORAL PERSON AND WOULD ACCEPT SOME CULPABILITY. IF NOT YOU ARE EITHER A LIAR PROTECTING THE CONSTABLE OR YOU ARE AN IMMORAL ***, INCOMPETENT AND NOT DESERVING OF HAVING THE RESPONSIBILITY OF OWNING FIREARMS. BASIC NRA GUIDELINES TELL YOU TO LOCK UP YOUR GUNS. JUST PLAIN STUPID. CONSTABLE BALLARD SHOULD HAVE HAD THE KEYS TO HIS PATROL CAR SAFELY LOCKED AWAY IN A “GUN SAFE” OR THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN WITH HIM; CULPABILITY IS CLEAR.

  5. Mike Foley says:

    A RESPONSIBLE gun owner, ESPECIALLY a constable should know the proper way to secure firearms. The murderer took advantage of a situation, had the gun accessible and now 2 innocent people are no longer with us. May they rest in peace and that *** rot in jail..

  6. Theresa says:

    Mr. Dixon, My comment was not based on who you are but what you said. I understand you are hurt. I would be hurt. I would be freaking out ****** off…enraged actually. I started to point out my obvious opinion but I think it is best to let you process your anger and hate. I certainly do not think arguing with you will help you at all and I do not want to be a part of your anguish. I will definitely be praying that it does not consume your every breathe for the rest of your life. I do not think your loved one would want it to do that either. I would like your friends and family to reach out to you and minister to your spirit. Only the Holy Spirit will bring you the peace needed.

  7. Maria says:

    Both of you are arguing over something that is completely subjective…the two of you seem to have lost sight of the facts. Garrett Ballard made the choice to take mind altering drugs which in turn led to the murder of his two friends. Their lives can never be restored and now Garrett must pay the price for his actions. Is his father really responsible for his son’s actions? Again it’s subjective. Maybe had Garrett not been living with his parents at 21 years old this wouldn’t have happened?! Maybe had his parents been home to babysit their adult son this wouldn’t have happened?! Maybe if there were regulations put in place that forbid the option for officers to take home their tax payer funded patrol units, this wouldn’t have happened?! Who knows. Again back to the facts, two lives lost over this unfortunate turn of events and the person directly responsible must suffer the consequences. Let’s not forget about the victims and their families suffering from the loss.

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