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Judge orders accused Va. State Trooper killer to stay behind bars

Posted at 11:49 AM, May 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-30 18:29:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The man arrested for killing Virginia State Trooper Michael Walter Friday night in Richmond's Mosby Court made his initial court appearance Tuesday morning.

Travis Ball was arraigned, via video conference, on malicious wounding and firearms charges during a hearing at Richmond's Manchester courthouse.

The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Tuesday that Walter died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Ball is not yet charged with Walter's murder.

"It's very common for prosecutors to want to charge whatever is necessary right off the bat, just to get them picked up and held in a facility while they continue the investigation," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said when asked why Ball was not yet charged with murdering a police officer. "If they charge capital murder right now, the speedy trial clock starts ticking and they have to get things moving much more quickly. The real goal right now is to just get him picked up and held in a facility so that he is not out on the street."

Ball said nothing as Richmond General District Court Judge David Hick denied his bond.

Travis Ball was arraigned via video.

Ball was appointed a public defender during the hearing.

His next court date was set for July 13.

Remembering Michael Walter

In addition to being a Virginia State Police Special Agent, Trooper Walter was a wrestling coach who co-founded Blackhawk Gym in Powhatan.

"Mike lived and breathed energy," Rob McMillin, with Blackhawk Wrestling, said. “And passion was certainly part of it, but he also had a bedrock sense of value and character that he displayed throughout his life and also exemplified before the people he was mentoring."

There is a gathering for families of Blackhawk Gym wrestlers scheduled for Tuesday evening at the gym. A private prayer service for Trooper Walter will follow.

A vigil is planned Wednesday, from 6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m., at Virginia State Police headquarters at 7700 Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield County.

Participants are allowed to bring flowers and balloons to be left at the memorial.

Walter's visitation and funeral will be held Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Powhatan High School, located in the 1800 block of Judes Ferry Road.

Visitation will last from 10 a.m. through 12 p.m., while the funeral will begin at 1 p.m.

A reception will be held at Powhatan High School, for all those in attendance, immediately following the service.

The burial will be a private graveside service.

Special Agent Michael T. Walter

The shooting and the suspect

Walter was shot Friday night while on patrol in Richmond's Mosby Court.

He was talking with Ball, a resident of Mosby Court, and another man who were in a parked car on Redd Street just before 7:30 p.m.

“Ball fired one shot at Special Agent Michael Walter," Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty said.

Ball fled on foot, but was arrested the next day -- some 70 miles away -- at a home in Northumberland County.

"He was taken into custody without incident. [He was] brought back to Richmond for questioning," Flaherty said following the arrest.

Online court documents showed Ball had previously been charged with assault and battery, obstruction of justice, destruction of property, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and animal cruelty.

The most recent charge was filed in Lancaster County where Ball had an active probation violation and was scheduled to appear in court next month.

"I think the details needed to be stated first before anybody assume, because there's a missing piece to the puzzle," Ball's sister Ashley said following the arrest. "This is not my brother. I don't see my brother doing none of that."

Ball said her brother grew up in the Northern Neck and graduated from Northumberland High School before he moved to Richmond's Mosby Court.

My brother is a loving, caring person... happy all the time," his sister said. "He loves being around his family and friends. He loves music."

Ball said her brother has five children.

When questioned about her brother's criminal background, his sister confirmed the charges.

"Yes, he has previous charges, but nobody's perfect," his sister said. "Everybody makes mistakes.”