Suspect in Multiple Stabbings Had Undergone Anger Management

A convicted felon who is accused of having stabbed to death his ex-girlfriend and three others over the weekend had been ordered to undergo anger management classes, sources say.

Michael Ballard is charged with the weekend stabbings of four people, after alleging going on a rampage in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He had been living in a halfway house after bouncing in and out of prison on parole violations.

In 1991, Ballard—who was then 18—stabbed Donald Richard to death. He pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and received a sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. After serving part of that time, he was released to a halfway house in November 2006. As part of his parole, Ballard was required to participate in “outpatient anger management treatment” according to documents recently released by the state Board of Probation and Parole.

By April 2008, Ballard had stopped going to his treatment. He was sent back to prison on a parole violation. He came up for parole in November 2008, but the board decided to deny his request for parole, citing his “failure to demonstrate motivation for success” and his “refusal to accept responsibility” for his crimes.

When Ballard was granted parole, over a year later in December 2009, he was sent again to a halfway house, but was not ordered to undergo any further anger management treatment.

On Saturday, Ballard was scheduled to return to the halfway house at 2 p.m. When he failed to do so, a warrant was issued for his arrest. In the meantime, he had gone to the home of his former girlfriend, Denise Merhi, 39. There, he attacked her, her father, and her grandfather. A neighbor, hearing the screams, ran over to provide assistance and was also stabbed to death by Ballard.

The victims are Denise Merhi; Dennis Marsh, 62; Alvin Marsh Jr., 87; and Steven Zernhelt, 53.

After the attack, Ballard stole Merhi’s Pontiac Grand Prix and drove away from the scene of the crime. He crashed the car less than an hour later, and was hospitalized for injuries that he sustained during the crash.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli has often spoken out about Pennsylvania’s parole system.

“This guy’s a rabid dog and he needs to be put down, and I’m going to put him down with a death sentence,” said Morganelli.

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