MILWAUKEE -- Laron Ball pleaded not guilty on Monday, Feb. 18 to multiple charges in connection with a fatal crash that happened near 37th and Sheridan in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Feb. 5. His 16-year-old brother, who was a passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene after prosecutors said Laron Ball disregarded a stop sign, and their vehicle collided with a school bus.
Ball appeared in court days before his younger brother's funeral.
"This really is just a horrible tragedy," Officer William Hanney, Milwaukee Police Department, testified during Ball's hearing. "(Ball's brother) died as a result of blunt force injuries received from this crash."
Ball, 17, is facing the following charges:
- Homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle
- Knowingly operate motor vehicle while revoked (cause death of another)
- Possession of a firearm by adjudicated delinquent
The complaint said Ball admitted to driving approximately 40 to 50 miles per hour — which is 15 to 25 miles per hour over the speed limit. Ball told police he attempted to stop at the stop sign, but stated that his vehicle slid through the stop sign and collided with a school bus.
"He failed to stop for a stop sign and collided with the passenger side of a yellow school bus," said Officer Hanney.
During an interview with investigators, Ball admitted to being in an argument with his girlfriend’s cousin before the crash, driving in excess of the speed limit and hiding a firearm behind a residence after the crash. Police recovered a black Smith and Wesson SD40 semi-automatic handgun lying in the snow in a nearby backyard.
The complaint said Ball had never been issued a driver's license and that his operating privileges had been revoked on May 20, 2015 for using a vehicle in the commission of a felony.
"The driver of the Toyota exited the vehicle -- ran from the scene, behind some houses," Officer Hanney testified.
Prosecutors argued Ball's alleged actions were reason for his $15,000 cash bond to be sustained. The defense referenced a different side of his character.
"Mr. Ball is a pleasant, gentle and polite young man," said Travis Schwantes, Ball's attorney.
Schwantes noted the young man was grieving the loss of his brother, and described him as a hard-working high school student.
Ball is due back in court on Monday, Feb. 25 for a scheduling conference.