A former New Albany doctor who pleaded guilty to the death of a 23-year-old woman and her unborn child will serve 36 years in prison for his crimes.
Ali Salim, 44, a former Knox Community Hospital emergency room physician, was sentenced to maximum sentence of 11 years each for the involuntary manslaughter of Deanna Ballman, 23, the involuntary manslaughter of her baby and her rape, as well as 30 months for tampering with evidence and 10 months for abuse of a corpse, to be served consecutively. He was also ordered to pay $70,000 in fines for his crimes.
After his release, Salim will be designated a Tier III sex offender, meaning he will be required to register his place of residence, work any any enrollment in institutions of education every 90 days with sheriff of the appropriate county.
Although the sentence falls shy of the maximum jail time he could have receive by eight months, Judge W. Duncan Whitney said the court reserves the longest sentences for the worst crimes.
“Quite frankly, this is the worst crime this court has ever seen,” Whitney said. “Hopefully everyone here today will think good of the victims. The blame falls solely on the defendant’s shoulders.”
Salim was initially indicted on Feb. 20 after the body of Ballman, who was 9-months pregnant, was found in her vehicle in Harlem Township. The Pataskla resident had died of heroin toxicity between July 31 and Aug. 1, 2012, after meeting Salim in a Kroger parking lot in response to a Craigslist ad, then returning to his home with him, according to documents from the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office. The heroin had been injected through a single puncture site on her left thigh. Salim has since admitted he often exchanged drugs for sex, however witness statements and tests of Ballman’s hair showed no evidence of drug use.
At the sentencing hearing, assistant prosecutor Kyle Rohrer said it should also be noted that it would be difficult for a right-handed pregnant woman to inject the side of her left thigh. Although Salim has admitted to supplying heroin, he disputes that it was him who injected Ballman with the heroin.
According to the sentencing memorandum, Ballman lost consciousness, after which Salim took nude photos of her, which he posted to Craigslist and filmed himself performing sexual acts on Ballman while she was unconscious. Salim later attempted to delete the videos and pictures from his iPhone, but the evidence was recovered.
The sentencing hearing began with a statement ready by Ballman’s mother, Lori, and a video memorial put together by the family.
She said Ballman and her unborn daughter, now named Mabel, have left a void in her family members’ hearts.
“She had dreams; she had aspirations,” Lori Ballman said. “Little Mabel, we never got to hold you in our loving arms.”
She then addressed Salim directly, calling him a “real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
“Ali Salim, I have waited 17 months and 20 days for this day,” she said. “You took my baby daughter and you took my baby granddaughter for your own sick purposes.”
Ballman directly faced the defendant as she read the statement, and noted that he never looked back at her.
“Forgiveness? Don’t even ask for it,” she said. “We have seen no remorse throughout these proceedings. You can’t even look me in the eye.”
During the four minute-picture and musical tribute to Deanna Ballman, Salim repeatedly looked up at the screen.
Before receiving his sentence, he addressed the judge, admitting to actions he called “immoral.”
“The least I can do is stand here in front of you, accept responsibility and let you decide my punishment,” Salim said. “I wish that it was my life that was taken and not theirs that evening.”
Lori Ballman called the apology “too little, too late.”
“People like that should never see daylight again,” she said.
Salim can appeal Friday’s ruling, though his attorney Sam Shamansky could not confirm if he would file for an appeal. After Salim, a Pakistani-born permanent legal resident of the United States, completes his sentence in prison, he may also be subject to deportation, Rohrer said.