Man pleads guilty in parking lot shooting, gets probation

Becky Campbell • Jan 8, 2013 at 10:03 PM

A Johnson City man convicted of aggravated assault in a 2011 nightclub parking lot shooting was approved for probation in a brief Criminal Court hearing Tuesday.

Moses Ballard, 27, was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation and 10 years of unsupervised probation. He had been jailed since his arrest almost two years ago, but the sentencing paved the way for his release Tuesday.

Ballard was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder in the Feb. 2, 2011, shooting of 39-year-old Michael Gaitor. Ballard’s attorney, Kara Lola, negotiated a plea agreement in October that allowed her client to enter an Alford plea to aggravated assault with an eight-year sentence.

Ballard was eligible for probation, which was granted Tuesday.

The incident happened after a bar fight at Big G’s nightclub.

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.

Ballard was previously jailed under a $130,000 bond, but was released after his sentencing.

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