(Editor's note: The following news story includes a graphic description of the murder scene that may not be suitable for younger readers.)
MALONE - Angela Ball says she killed Ward Wilbur in self-defense after he attacked her inside her Saranac Lake apartment.
Led by Franklin County Sheriff’s Department deputies. accused killer Angela Ball walks down the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse in Malone following her arraignment Friday on murder and assault charges.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Ball, 29, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the death of Wilbur, 65, who was from Lake Placid but had lived with Ball in a remote cabin outside Saranac Lake. Ball is currently behind bars in the Franklin County Jail in Malone without bail.
During Ball's arraignment Friday, Franklin County District Attorney filed a pair of statements she gave to village and state police in the hours after the murder, before she requested an attorney.
The statements outline, in chilling and graphic detail, Ball's version of what happened in her Morris Way apartment on the morning of Nov. 25, and the events she said led up to it.
The first statement was given to village police officer Reyanin Peck and signed by Ball at 12:56 p.m., less than two hours after she called 911. Ball lists her primary address as 1951 state Route 86, the location of the cabin, but she also said she stays at 19 Morris Way, apartment 3, to take showers and "grow marijuana there."
Ball said she met Wilbur two years ago and the they started a relationship. The first year was really good, she said, but after about a year Ball said the couple stopped having sex because "Ward's libido wasn't working and he became very angry over it." Ball said she stayed with Wilbur because she loved him and he was taking care of her.
Over the past year, Ball said the relationship became "really aggressive sexually and confrontational." She claims Wilbur ripped her clothes off, forced her to have sex with him, punched her and dragged her on the floor. She said Wilbur threatened her with axes and knives, "telling me that he owns me and I will do what he says." Ball said she threatened to call police, but Wilbur broke her cellphone in half.
A few days before Nov. 25, Ball said she and Wilbur had another physical confrontation. She said she ran from the cabin, down the long dirt driveway to Route 86 and hitchhiked back to the village, eventually making her way to the 19 Morris Way apartment.
Around 8:30 a.m. on the 25th, Ball said she was sleeping on the floor when Wilbur, who she said has a key to the apartment, came in holding a steak knife in his hand. She said Wilbur grabbed her by the hair, but she pushed him back and he fell on the floor.
"I got a metal baseball bat from next to the front apartment door and started swinging because I feared for my life," Ball's statement reads.
Wilbur got up and tried to stab her with the knife, Ball said, but she kept swinging the bat.
"When I was bashing him, Ward fell down and dropped the knife to the floor," Ball said. "I (had) a blackout moment, but I got the knife from the floor and put it in my right hand and I just saw blood. I think I murdered him in self-defense. I feel like I stabbed Ward numerous times in the face and chest. I am not sure how many times I stabbed him because I was afraid he was going to kill me.
"The last thing Ward said was something to the effect of 'I'll kill you' or 'I'll get you!!'" she continued. "I was in so much shock over what had happened because there was blood everywhere and I saw that he was lifeless on the floor. I covered him with sheets and a blanket, then lied down next to him. I was just praying that he was OK, but he was definitely lifeless."
Ball told police she called 911 around 11 a.m., although she added that she wasn't sure exactly what time she called. She said she waited to call because she "was in shock for what I had just done."
Ball's second statement was given to state police investigators Dennis Dwyer and Jeremy Viele at the village police station and signed by Ball at 7:54 p.m. that night.
In this statement, Ball said Wilbur arrived at the apartment around 9 a.m. and came at her with a knife saying, "'I am going to kill you.'" Again she said she knocked Wilbur to the ground. Ball said she ran past him to the front door but didn't open it because she didn't think she'd be able to get out in time. Then Ball said she grabbed the baseball bat, "turned around and went after Ward.
"I started attacking him, and I was circling him. He tried to block and grab the bat. I hit him in the arms, hands, face and head. ... I hit him with a blow to the top of his head and he fell into the corner on the left side of the door. I think I probably hit him 10 times before he fell to the floor."
While he was on the ground, Ball said Wilbur was covering his head and telling her to stop, but still trying to get up. She said she hit Wilbur in the head three or four more times. Then she saw the knife on the ground, picked it up and stabbed him.
"I think I may have stabbed him five to six times," Ball's statement reads. "I think I was hitting him in the face, head, neck and chest. I was so enraged."
Ball told police she then went over to the computer and sat down "wondering what the hell happened." Five minutes later, she said she heard Wilbur making noises and saying what sounded to her like "I'll get you."
"I didn't want him to suffer anymore because I did love him," Ball said. "I saw that the knife blade was bent. So I put (it) under my right boot and straightened it the best I could. I wanted to stop Ward's suffering, so I went back over to him and I stabbed him twice in his right eye. He was done suffering and so was I."
Again, Ball told police she covered Wilbur's body with blankets, putting a grocery store bag over his face, and laid down next to him for 10 minutes, maybe longer. Then she said she got up, went to the computer and sat there for about an hour before she called 911.
Peck was the first officer to respond to the scene. In an affidavit filed with village court, she said she was dispatched to a reported assault at 11:07 a.m. When she got there, Peck said she saw a white female, who later identified herself as Angela Ball, sitting in a chair outside holding a dog.
"Angela stated that she stabbed him," Peck said. "I asked who he was, and she said her lover. Angela said that he attacked her. I asked Angela where he was and she stated inside. Angela then said, 'I think I killed him.'"
Peck said she went inside the apartment and found Wilbur's body covered in blankets behind the door. There was no movement, she said. Peck then called the police station and asked for Sgt. James Law to be dispatched to the scene.
A statement signed by Law lists several remarks he said Ball made while he was standing outside the apartment with Ball and Peck, including "He came at me with a kitchen knife," and "I got the baseball bat and I just started swinging and I just lost it and hit him with the bat and he's attacked me before." Law also said he heard Ball say that she and Wilbur used to be lovers. "He wanted like sex and it's just not happening," Ball reportedly said.
Video recordings of police interviews with Ball were also filed by Champagne on Friday, but the county clerk's office wasn't immediately able to make copies at the Enterprise's request.
Champagne said the statements Ball gave to police were made during an 11-hour period after the incident was first reported but before she asked for a lawyer. He said the statements include "admissions against interest" about her role in Wilbur's death while the video recordings "contain a number of incriminating statements made by the defendant."
Before giving the statements, Ball signed and initialed an affidavit waiving her Miranda rights, including her right to remain silent and her right to an attorney.
Although Ball claims she was attacked and was acting in self-defense, Champagne said Friday that the murder and assault charges logged by the grand jury were appropriate.
"The grand jury's indictment speaks for itself," he said. "The grand jury said there was reasonable cause to believe she intentionally murdered someone and reasonable cause to believe she inflicted serious grave injury in this case. I think that clearly addresses those issues at this time."
Marijuana, other items seized
Other documents provided Friday include inventories of items police took from the apartment using search warrants.
The lists include several items connected to the marijuana-growing operation: 108 small pot plants, electronic scales, fertilizer, a prescription bottle containing seeds, two containers of marijuana and a paper bag with packaged marijuana.
Police also seized a "plastic bag with suspected blood," sheets, blankets, some furniture, a cellphone, an aluminum baseball bat, a knife and a Dell laptop computer.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.