Romeoville killer only has to serve half his prison sentence

A Romeoville man convicted of second-degree murder for his role in fatally striking a 55-year-old man with a baseball bat only will have to serve half of his prison sentence, and he could be released in months.

Adam Ballard, 19, of the 300 block of Healy Avenue, and his father, Mark Ballard, 47, initially were indicted on first-degree murder charges for allegedly killing Richard Pollack with a baseball bat in August 2014.

However, on the second day of Adam Ballard’s bench trial, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. A Will County judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Will County State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Carole Cheney said Adam Ballard only will have to serve half of the sentence. He had been credited with serving more than four and a half years in the Will County jail, and he could be eligible for release from prison in a matter of months.

Adam Ballard’s attorney, Paul Napolski, failed to return calls Friday.

In light of the evidence presented at trial, Cheney said, the guilty plea from Adam Ballard was the best result that could be obtained. Cheney would not elaborate on the evidence.

Mark Ballard’s case has yet to go to trial. He remains in the county jail. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for April 10.

Napolski was Mark Ballard’s attorney until Mark Ballard decided to represent himself in June, according to court records.

The second-degree murder charge states that Adam Ballard struck Pollack in the head while knowing it would create the strong probability of death. It also states that Adam Ballard believed the circumstances, “if they existed,” would justify or exonerate the killing, but “his belief was unreasonable.”

Romeoville Police Chief Mark Turvey said several combatants were armed with baseball bats during the 2014 street brawl. Witnesses reported seeing Adam and Mark Ballard strike Pollack in the head with a baseball bat, police had said. Pollack was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, where he died an hour later.

After his arrest, Adam Ballard was booked into River Valley Juvenile Detention Center.

In 2016, Will County Judge Paula Gomora made a ruling that the juvenile court would not keep Adam Ballard’s case, and he would face the first-degree murder charge as an adult.

Adults convicted of first-degree murder face a minimum 20-year sentence and must serve 100 percent of their time.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News