For some chilling reading, look no further than the criminal complaint filed against federal prison inmate Phillip Monroe Ballard for allegedly soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge John McBryde of Fort Worth.
The Sept. 27 complaint filed against Ballard notes that he is in prison awaiting trial for allegedly filing false tax returns. Ballard met with an unnamed cooperating source (CS) and indicated he is a sovereign citizen who believes he is immune from all of the laws of the United States, according to the complaint.
“Ballard mentioned that his court case was assigned to Judge McBryde and he believes the judge will sentence him to over 20 years in prison,” the complaint alleges. “Ballard stated he would be willing to pay the CS $100,000 in cash to have Judge McBryde killed so that his case would be transferred to another judge.”
The complaint alleges that Ballard was specific in how he wanted McBryde killed: “Specifically, Ballard told the CS to have the ‘killer’ position himself within the Burnett Plaza Building located across the street from the Federal Courthouse in Fort Worth. Ballard stated from that vantage point the killer could shoot the judge as he enters the courthouse with a high-powered rifle affixed with a scope.”
Ballard handed a hand-written map of the buildings to the CS, according to the complaint.
“Ballard also told the CS that if that plan does not work, then the killer can plant a bomb in the judge’s vehicle,” the complaint states.
McBryde, who has recused himself from Ballard’s case, declines comment. Warren St. John, a Fort Worth solo who represents Ballard, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Kathy Colvin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, also did not return a call for comment.
Texas has seen the scenario alleged in the complaint carried out before. In 1979, U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. of the Western District of Texas was murdered outside his San Antonio home by a contract killer who was paid by a criminal defendant who had a case pending in Wood’s court. The U.S. District Courthouse in San Antonio is now named for Wood.
-- John Council