GALLIPOLIS — An appeal has been filed with the Fourth District Court of Appeals in the case against a Gallia County man who was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Betsy Ball.
Lee A. Hawkins, 48, Bidwell, is currently being held at the Ross Correctional Institution serving a life sentence without the eligibility of parole after being found guilty by a jury last October of aggravated murder, tampering with evidence and the gross abuse of a corpse.
Hawkins was arrested on March 13, 2012, after he was identified as suspect in the murder of Ball on the night of February 29, 2012.
The defendant was alleged of murdering Ball, 67, at her home on Wilder Road home, dumping her body at a nearby farm located on Piper Road and raping and mutilating her body.
The victim was reported missing by her family during the early morning hours of March 1, and her body was later found by law enforcement officials where it had been dumped in a field on Piper Road.
Hawkins, who entered a not guilty plea on March 19, 2012, and maintained his innocence throughout litigation in his case, was found guilty of the death of Ball on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, following a six-day jury trial.
During sentencing on October 16, Common Pleas Judge D. Dean Evans handed down a life sentence without parole eligibility for the charge of aggravated murder and a 36-month sentence for tampering with evidence.
Tampering with evidence and the gross abuse of a corpse were found to be allied offenses in this case — or offenses that could have been committed by the same actions of the defendant — and were merged for the purposes of sentencing.
Following the hearing, Hawkins was remanded to the custody of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office and was later transported to the Ross Correctional Institution.
A notice of appeal was filed with the Gallia County Clerk of Courts in this case on January 30, 2013.
The entry, signed by Assistant State Public Defender, Peter Galyardt, counsel for Hawkins, states that “[n]otice is hereby given that Lee A. Hawkins, Defendant-Appellant, appeals to the Court of Appeals of Gallia County, Ohio, Fourth Appellate District, from the amended judgement entry of conviction, entered in this action on the 17th day of October, 2012.”
Further, a motion for preparation of a complete transcript of proceedings at the state’s expense was also filed, along with a motion for appointment of counsel through the Office of the Ohio Public Defender.
In journal entries filed on February 4, 2013, the court grants the appointment of counsel for the purposes of the appeal and orders the court reporter to prepare the transcript of the trial against Hawkins.
According to the clerk’s online docket, in Hawkins’ 2013 court of appeals case, a copy of the notice of appeal, motion for preparation of transcript, motion for the appointment of counsel, along with other documents were received from the common pleas court and have been filed in this case.