Man pleads guilty to lesser charge in shooting

Becky Campbell • Oct 29, 2012 at 9:39 PM

A Johnson City man charged in a 2011 bar shooting pleaded guilty to a reduced charged in Washington County Criminal Court on Monday.

Moses A. Ballard, 27, was arrested after the Feb. 2 shooting at Big G’s nightclub. He was charged with attempted first-degree murder for shooting 39-year-old Michael Gaitor.

In the plea agreement, Ballard was sentenced to eight years in prison, but he is eligible for probation. That hearing is scheduled for Jan. 8.

There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting, which is why Ballard was offered a reduced charge, according to Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin.

“Unfortunately, no one saw the shooting,” Baldwin said.

According to a court affidavit, Gaitor told police that he, his girlfriend and another person arrived at the bar shortly before 2:30 a.m. and observed a fight break out inside the establishment. In that fight, Ballard was reportedly “whipped pretty good,” and the other man involved in the fight dragged Ballard outside.

At that point, Gaitor and the bar owner, Gary Johnson, went outside to check on the situation but didn’t see anyone around. They stayed outside talking and about 10 minutes later, Ballard came around the corner of the building and asked about the man he had been fighting.

According to the court document, Ballard asked Gaitor who the man he’d fought was and where he could be found. Gaitor said it was his brother-in-law and that he lived in Elizabethton. Ballard said “no he doesn’t,” and asked a second time where the man lived.

Gaitor told police that he repeated that his brother-in-law lived in Elizabethton and then he and Johnson turned to go back inside the bar. That’s when they heard four gunshots.

When Gaitor got inside the bar, he realized he had been shot.

According to police, Gaitor was hit three times — twice in the buttocks and once in the upper hip.

When police arrived and obtained a description of the shooter, Ballard was developed as a suspect. The victim picked Ballard’s picture out of a photo lineup as the shooter.

Several hours later, police located Ballard and took him to the police department for questioning. At that time, Ballard had a busted lip, a knot on his head and several abrasions. He told police he fell into a Dumpster when he took the trash out.

Ballard remains jailed under a $130,000 bond.

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