McCoy man pleads guilty to arson, animal cruelty
A 26-year-old McCoy man has pleaded guilty to arson, cruelty to animals, and false reporting to authorities.
Steven James Ball is charged in a July 27 incident in which seven cats died in a fire that destroyed a mobile home at 2170 Catamount Creek Road. The charges also tie to the July 26 shooting deaths of two dogs belonging to the family.
Ball, represented by a public defender, was originally charged with 13 separate counts related to the incident. Court records indicate that he struck a plea bargain arrangement with the District Attorney’s office in which he pleaded guilty to the three charges with the stipulation that he serve a 90-day jail sentence and probation. Sentencing is scheduled on Feb. 3.
Possible sentences on the felony charges include a two- to six-year prison term, and fines of $2,000-$500,000.
Sheriff’s officers were first summoned to the suspect’s home on July 26 by the suspect, who reported that somebody had shot and killed his two dogs.
When asked who might want to kill the animals, Ball told officers he had some ongoing problems with a United Parcel Service driver who was afraid of the animals.
The following day at about noon, dispatch received a report of a house fire at the same address. By the time a deputy arrived, the McCoy Fire Department was working to extinguish the flames, but the structure was burnt down to the frame. Seven cats perished inside the home.
Ball’s wife and children were on a trip out of the area at the time.
Officers responding to the scene noted that the victim was showing no emotion as his home burned. He also told officers he had wrecked a company truck recently, after somebody cut the brake line and he drove into a ditch, and again mentioned the UPS driver as a likely suspect.
Sheriff’s investigators, concerned that his stories weren’t making sense, called Ball in for another interview, then filed the multiple felony charges.
Deputy District Attorney David G. Moffat, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment.