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DA: No evidence ties Ball to Lamar Co. fire

By Walter Geiger Towaliga circuit district attorney Richard Milam reported Monday he had ‘˜no evidence’ to tie suspected serial arsonist Travis Leroy Ball to the one arson fire he was charged with in Lamar County and had no choice but to drop local charges against him which he did last week. When Ball’s vehicle was pulled over here in the early morning hours Jan. 8, 2013, there was substantial evidence but it all pertained to an Upson County fire from earlier that night to which Ball entered guilty pleas. ‘He had gas cans in his car that had recently had gas in them. He had matches. His car smelled like smoke. He smelled like smoke. That was good evidence but it tied him to the Upson fire not any of the fires in Lamar County,’ Milam said Ball was suspected of dozens of fires in Lamar and surrounding counties but was only charged in connection with one local fire. That intentionally set blaze destroyed a home on Hwy. 41 South that belonged to the late Hodges Poore on Dec. 27, 2012. ’We held the case open but we never had any evidence. I talked multiple times with the investigator in the case Mark Barry. He said he had no evidence. Capt. Todd Pippin from the sheriff’s office was in on the conversation when we decided not to pursue the case due to the lack of evidence. At some point, you have to fish or cut bait,’ the district attorney explained. Milam acknowledged the string of fires ended when Ball was arrested. ‘I think they arrested the right guy but we have to have ample evidence to proceed,’ he said. After entering his Upson pleas, Ball was sentenced to five years in prison and seven years on probation. He was imprisoned on June 19, 2014 and is currently at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson. His dossier on the Department of Corrections website lists Ball’s sentence length at 20 years. No explanation for that discrepancy was available at presstime Monday. Ball was a suspect in a series of threatening letters that were sent to The Herald Gazette and elsewhere and resulted in a federal investigation. Milam said he had no information as to the status of that probe. ’After meeting with our District Attorney, we came to the agreement that Mr. Ball’s case would be better served if we compiled all of the evidence from Upson and Lamar Counties into one one case. We felt that Upson County had the stronger case, as they were able to put Mr. Ball on the scene of one of the arson cases. We are thankful we were able to collaborate with the Upson County Sheriff’s Office and put Mr. Ball in prison where he belongs,’ said Sheriff Brad White.

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