Letter: Man wants to end his appeal of death sentence

 EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A letter purportedly from a man sentenced to death for fatally stabbing four people in eastern Pennsylvania says he no longer wishes to continue his appeal.

Michael Ballard, 40, pleaded guilty to killing his ex-girlfriend and three others in Northampton in June 2010. He was on parole at the time for a 1991 slaying.
The typed letter dated June 2 says that a federal defender acted without Ballard’s permission in filing the appeal and he only learned about it through news reports, The (Easton) Express-Times reported.

The letter said, “They are acting against my own wishes to waive my appeals.”

District Attorney John Morganelli said he cannot confirm that Ballard wrote the letter but he believes it is legitimate. He said his office will investigate whether the appeal was filed without Ballard’s permission.

Mark Bookman, director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, filed an appeal on Ballard’s behalf in March seeking U.S. Supreme Court review of the decision. He did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and previously hasn’t returned phone messages on the matter, the newspaper said.

Danielle Kaufman, who has communicated with Ballard by letter and telephone on and off since his arrest in 2010, told the paper that Ballard told her a few weeks ago that he planned to end the appeal process.

“He said him doing the appeals is like the system asking him to get down on his knees and beg for his life,” Kaufman said. “He would rather walk into the room with his head held high and flip everyone off as he’s going.”

Kaufman, who said she wept when he told her about his decision, speculated that it might just be a maneuver to help his cause. She said he seemed upset when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected his appeal in November, and she
believed he would want to continue his appeals.

Morganelli declined to speculate on whether Ballard truly wished to drop his appeal or was trying to affect the proceedings.

In an interview with two reporters who wrote a book about the case, Ballard said he didn’t enjoy life on death row, calling himself a “pet.”

“I’m taken out for exercise. I’m told when to eat. I live in a (expletive) cage. ... This is not a (expletive) life,” he was quoted as saying in the book.