HARRISVILLE, Mich. – Friday’s verdict boiled down to 12 jurors deciding the fate of Nathaniel Ballard in the murder of Patricia Leeper. They ruled whether or not he is guilty of first degree premeditated murder or second degree murder.
Here’s what happened hours before the final verdict.
Patricia Leeper’s favorite color was red.
This fact wasn’t brought up in court involving her death, but it’s a fact the victim’s family wants noticed.
“It’s just an attempt to show that you know she’s with us and that we’re fighting for her,” said Trayc Cunningham, Leeper’s sister. “This is the second time around with this trial and we just want justice to be served.”
There were three sisters in the 1976 version of Sparkle with stories similar to the woman who has been the face of this trial since her death 18 years ago.
In the movie, Sparkle’s older sister said when I pass away make sure you bury me in a red dress. “So [Patricia] turned to me after that movie went off and she says, ‘if I die before you make sure I’m buried in a red dress with a single rose in my hair.'”
The red supporters and family members wore in the courtroom represents a call to action.
“You know, it’s time for someone else to see that justice needs to be served,” said Leeper’s sister.
The lid on this case would soon be closed and Nathaniel Ballard waived his right to testify.
When Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Steve Harshberger took to the stand he said Ballard never denied killing Patricia Leeper.
The detective testified, not once did Ballard say “it wasn’t me” or “I didn’t kill her” during interrogation.
Evidence proved DNA of Ballard’s semen had been found on Leeper’s body minutes before her death.
Relatives of Ballard declined to be interviewed at the time of this story.