I thoroughly enjoyed your article on Ed Lawler (“The Curious Case of John Edward Lawler,” Cover Story, June 17), but not the memory of the murder. I was both a neighbor on Riverside Drive and the foreman of the Johnny Ballard jury trial.
My contact with Lawler was minimal — his dog would escape to my home and jump into my truck to sleep. I returned him several times. Even though I divulged this information to the lawyers I was never stricken from the jury. Mike Morchower asked me why, and years later I asked Ballard attorney Craig Cooley in the Richmond Airport. He had asked if I were involved in youth programs — I was a volunteer baseball coach in Huguenot Little League for 7 years. I answered yes and that's why I was not stricken. The defense reasoned that I would be opposed to capital punishment of a 17-year-old. They were correct. But the entire jury felt the same way. We all felt [Carl G.] Simons was the real “bludgeoner.”
One discrepancy from what the jury was told and what Simons says in the article — Simons needed money for back child support and Juanita Mae Ballard suggested Lawler as a source, to avoid Simons going to jail or other legal ramifications — the rest is history.
Frank D. Carpin