By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
AP Legal Affairs Writer
COLUMBUS: 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 a maximum sentence in the case.
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 woman were young, drug-addicted prostitutes with several alleging they were drugged against their will, while others saying they were sexually assaulted, the filing said.
Salim also wrote prescriptions for hard drugs for women he had sexual relationships with, and also bought heroin that he gave women who visited his house in an upscale central Ohio neighborhood.
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.
The filing also disputes Salim’s version of events, that Ballman 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.
Instead, 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.
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 message was left for Salim’s attorney, Sam Shamansky, who previously alleged Ballman was a prostitute feeding a drug habit.
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.