Tuesday, December 9, 2008

'The Charges Don't Make Sense'

Friends and co-workers of Donald Ball, the former Marine and Blackwater security guard now standing trial for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians in September 2007, are shocked at the US government's charges and say they don't make sense.

Even the judge presiding over the case in Utah has ruled that Ball, a court baliff, may keep his .40 caliber Glock pistol, according to AP.

"The 26-year-old's co-workers at the Salt Lake City Justice Courts, where he works as a security officer, were dumbfounded by the charges of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter levied Monday. They say Ball is a man of unquestionable integrity who could not have intentionally killed an innocent person.

"'I'd have him on my side at any time,' said Angie Oldham, a security officer at the court who is also a classmate of Ball's at the police academy at Salt Lake Community College.

"Deputy Terry Thomas, who trained Ball for his duties at the court, called Ball 'an upstanding young man,'" the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"Thomas observed Ball on the job and saw him remain calm under stress, never raising his voice. The charges didn't make sense, Thomas said.

"'There's no way you take four or five guys, highly trained - they're not going to open fire unprovoked on a crowd of civilians,' said Thomas, who was one of the law enforcement responders at the Trolley Square shootings. 'It's sad to see guys like that who sacrificed their time, put their lives on the line every day to fight for the people of Iraq ... they get the shaft."

Ball enlisted in the Marines after 9/11 to "honor" the memory of his late father and to continue his family's generations-long tradition of serving in the military. Family members say he signed up with Blackwater to continue that service. According to the Tribune, he used the money to buy a home for his widowed mother.

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