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Convicted killers to be sentenced April 4

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — A pair of convicted killers will be back in court April 4 to be sentenced in the February 2011 shooting death of an Alabama man.

Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Travis Meyer said Chaz Jensen Ballard and Singlee Soun will be sentenced for killing James Johnson. They were convicted March 1 after about two hours and 20 minutes of jury deliberation.

Meyer said he is seeking life without parole for the two. Trial Judge Geronda Carter will impose the sentence.

Each man blamed the other for the shooting. Ballard said he shot Johnson, 27, in self-defense but he didn't know why Soun began firing. Soun said he never fired at Johnson but watched television and smoked a cigarette while bullets flew about the small room inside the EconoLodge on Upper Riverdale Road.

Johnson was hit eight times by rounds fired from a 9 mm handgun and a rifle, said police. Soun said Ballard held a weapon in each hand as he fired at Johnson.

The jury didn't believe either man and convicted them on all charges.

Johnson's brother, Gill Johnson Jr., and his parents attended every day of the trial, having driven into Jonesboro from Alabama. They said they will return for sentencing. They were pleased with the verdict.

"We're very pleased, we're very thankful for how we were treated, especially since we were from out of town," Johnson said. "We're pleased with the DA's Office and everyone who helped with the case, from detectives to victims advocate to the prosecutors. We're very pleased with the justice system that came to a fair verdict."

Johnson said his family will ask for life without parole for the pair.