John A. Ball is expected to plead guilty Friday to his role in the 2018 murder of Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett.
Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood on Tuesday confirmed that Ball is scheduled for a morning plea hearing before Boone Superior Court 2 Judge Bruce Petit but declined further comment.
Details of a possible plea deal have not been made public.
Pickett’s widow, Jennifer, and his comrades at the Boone County Sheriff’s Office would welcome a plea agreement, Sheriff Mike Nielsen said Tuesday.
“In this case — in meeting with Jen and her dad and Jake’s parents — it’s important to understand that they just want to move on, and this is another part of that process to help everyone heal,” Nielsen said. “They are in agreement, and I’m in agreement, with the prosecutor that it’s the right thing to do for everyone to move on, including this community.”
Ball, 23, did not pull the trigger but has been associated with the woman who bought the 9 mm Taurus PT709 handgun that killed Pickett.
Dawn Love Rochon illegally bought the gun in February 2017 in Indianapolis, according to Department of Justice records. Rochon in July was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison for lying about her address when she bought the gun.
The gun ended up in Ball’s possession in a manner that has not been made public, and he gave it to triggerman Anthony Baumgardt of Lebanon, according to court records. Baumgardt fatally shot Pickett after a police chase March 2, 2018.
Baumgardt pleaded guilty to murder in May and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ball and John D. Baldwin II, 30, both of Lebanon, are also both charged with murder in Pickett’s death.
Baldwin II was the driver in a car chase leading up to Pickett’s shooting at Indian Springs Apartments in Lebanon, according to court records.
His father, John Baldwin Sr., 56, and Baumgardt, both of Lebanon, were passengers in the car.
Lebanon Police were serving an unrelated warrant at 1402 Yates Street, a mobile home where Ball lived, when they spotted a car driven by Baldwin II, who was also wanted on a warrant.
Baldwin II led multiple units from LPD and the Boone County Sheriff’s Office on a chase around the city before stopping at the apartment complex, according to reports.
The elder Baldwin and Baumgardt jumped from the car and ran, while Baldwin II drove away, according to police reports. He was arrested on Interstate 65 shortly thereafter.
Pickett and other officers chased Baldwin and Baumgardt on foot and Baumgardt shot Pickett. Then former Lebanon Police Chief Tyson Warmoth shot Baumgardt, while then LPD Maj. Chad Morgan, who is now police chief, led the charge to capture Baldwin II.
Ball was wrapping up a methamphetamine deal with Baumgardt and Baldwin II that day when police arrived to serve an arrest warrant on Ball’s girlfriend, court records indicate.
Ball is being held without bond in the Boone County Jail. He also faces a pending charge of possession of meth filed in March 2018.
Baldwin II is scheduled for an April jury trial for murder.
“We’ve got one more person to hold accountable for Jake’s death, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure he is held accountable,” Nielsen said.
Baldwin II is an inmate in the Indiana Department of Correction’s Pendleton facility on a Marion County 2018 conviction for escape. His prior convictions include four counts of auto theft/receiving stolen parts in different cases and three counts of theft receiving stolen property.
The elder Baldwin pleaded guilty to possession of a narcotic drug and intimidation, in two cases in April, and a third case was dismissed in exchange for his plea.