YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Mahoning County Common Pleas judge Wednesday allowed a man to take back his guilty pleas in a burglary and shooting case.

Judge Anthony Donofrio said the main reason why he did is because he thinks Stevie Ballard, 22, of Campbell, felt compelled to plead guilty because of his upcoming unrelated murder case.

Ballard went on trial Aug. 21 in the murder case and was found not guilty Aug. 23. He has remained in the county jail since then because of his other pending case.

Ballard pleaded guilty June 4 to charges of burglary and felonious assault for two separate incidents within four days of each other in November 2021 at an Austintown apartment complex.

The next day, he wanted to take those pleas back. Prosecutors opposed that motion.

Ballard is charged with a Nov. 18, 2021, break-in at a Westminster Avenue apartment where a man was pistol-whipped and suffered four broken ribs.

Four days later, Ballard is accused of getting into a shootout with a different man at the same apartment complex. No one was injured.

Assistant Prosecutor Martin Hume said that Ballard should have the burden of proving his plea should be vacated, to which Ballard’s attorney, Rhys Cartwright-Jones, replied, “we vehemently disagree.

Cartwright-Jones said his client is innocent and he has a good defense at trial because of several inconsistencies in witness statements.

Hume said when Ballard was asked when he gave his plea if he was pressured, he said no. He said Ballard waited until the day of his sentencing to ask for his plea to be vacated because he didn’t want to go to prison. He said Ballard could have gone to trial that day instead but did not.

“It is our sense that this is playing the system,” Hume said.

Judge Donofrio said one thing the plea agreement could not record was the “apprehension” that Ballard had to feel about his upcoming murder trial. The judge said he had to ask Ballard several times if he was sure he was doing the right thing.

“I feel because he was facing an aggravated murder trial at the time, he felt compelled to do it [take the plea],” Judge Donofrio said.

Judge Donofrio did deny a motion to have Ballard’s bond reinstated because Ballard skipped a court date when he was on bond.

The case will be set for trial within the next 60 days, Judge Donofrio said.