DA wraps up in penalty phase of Pa. slaying case

May 12, 2011 10:51:38 AM PDT
Prosecutors seeking the death penalty for a Pennsylvania man who admitted killing his ex-girlfriend and three other people in a bloody rampage are dropping one of the three aggravating factors they say indicate he should be put to death.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli opted not to present a jailhouse witness to the jury hearing testimony in the penalty hearings for Michael Eric Ballard.

Ballard pleaded guilty to killing 39-year-old Denise Merhi, her father, grandfather and a neighbor in Northampton last summer. Investigator described a gruesome scene in which the victims were repeatedly stabbed and 87-year-old Alvin Marsh had his throat cut as he sat in a wheelchair.

Prosecutors rested their case Thursday morning. The defense presents witnesses next.