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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Convicted Murderer of VSP Special Agent Pleads Guilty

RICHMOND, Va. – A Lancaster County man who was convicted of the murder of a Virginia State Police Special Agent pleaded guilty today to possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.

According to court documents, on May 26, 2017, Virginia State Police Special Agent Michael Walter and Richmond Police Department Officer Christopher Duane encountered Travis Aaron Ball aka “Wiz”, 30, and another individual in a vehicle on the 1900 block of Redd Street in the Mosby Court public housing community.

During that encounter, the law enforcement officers learned that Ball and the driver were not residents of the Mosby Court public community. Believing that Ball and the driver were violating the public housing trespassing policies, the officers asked both individuals to step out of the vehicle.  As Ball stepped out of the vehicle, he possessed a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

It was later determined that Ball knew he was a convicted felon at the time of his possession of the firearm, as he had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.

In October 2018, Ball was sentenced in Richmond Circuit Court to 36 years in prison for the capital murder of Virginia State Police Special Agent Michael Walter.

Ball pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on May 21. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent; and William Smith, Chief of Richmond Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erik S. Siebert and Stephen E Anthony are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:19-cr-128.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated February 26, 2020