COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An expectant mother who was raped and killed last year had turned to prostitution to make ends meet and died after answering a Craigslist ad offering $200, a prosecutor said Thursday as he pushed for the maximum sentence.
Deanna Ballman was in a difficult financial situation after moving home to central Ohio from Colorado, separating from her husband and trying to support two young children while pregnant, assistant Delaware County prosecutor Kyle Rohrer said in a court filing.
Defendant Ali Salim, a former doctor, used Craigslist extensively to meet sexual partners, with many references in his ads to exchanging drugs for sex, including heroin, the filing said. Many of the women were young, drug-addicted prostitutes, with several alleging they were drugged against their will and others saying they were sexually assaulted, the filing said.
Salim also wrote prescriptions for hard drugs for women with whom he had sexual relationships, and also bought heroin that he gave women who visited his house in an upscale neighborhood.
A message was left for Salim's attorney, Sam Shamansky, who previously alleged Ballman was a prostitute feeding a drug habit.
Ballman, 23, died of a fatal heroin overdose, but there is no evidence she was a drug user, Rohrer said. She was found dead in the back seat of her car on a rural road a few miles from Salim's house the day after she met him. She was nine months pregnant; the child she planned to name Mabel also died.
Rohrer is pushing for a maximum sentence of 37 years at Salim's Dec. 20 sentencing. Salim, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in October; he was accused of fatally injecting Ballman with heroin.
He also pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. He entered a type of guilty plea to a charge of rape under which he maintains his innocence but acknowledges prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.
Thursday's filing disputes Salim's version of events the day Ballman died, namely his claim she was alive when she left the house and he drove her to a nearby grocery store parking lot where he gave her directions to get home. Salim claims he then walked home, according to the filing.
But investigators say video evidence shows Ballman nude and unconscious on Salim's bed, apparently suffering distress consistent with a heroin overdose, the filing said. She didn't leave the house alive, according to the filing, which said Salim left to get heroin in a neighboring suburb that evening while Ballman was still in the house.
Salim "furnished and administered heroin to a young lady who was nine months pregnant, a young lady who, by his own admission, declined even a glass of wine," according to the filing.
It notes that Salim, an emergency room physician, neglected his duty to help Ballman. "Without regard for mother or child, he dumped their bodies in a remote location as if he was taking out his trash," the filing said.
A second motion Thursday asks Delaware County Judge Duncan Whitney to allow investigators to destroy video, photo and audio evidence in the case after it's over, saying the material is obscene and shows acts that Ballman couldn't have consented to because she was unconscious.
"Some of the material further displays extreme and bizarre violence and cruelty," the filing said.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.