Stiff Penalty Upheld in Heinous Overdose Case
(CN) - A doctor who solicited a nine-months-pregnant woman for sex on Craigslist and filmed himself raping her while she died of a heroin overdose deserves consecutive sentences, an Ohio appeals court ruled.
In convicting Ali Salim of rape and involuntary manslaughter, the trial judge had said that Ali Salim committed "the worst form of said offenses this court has seen in 45 years of working in the criminal justice system."
Salim was an emergency room doctor and a board-certified psychiatrist. In 2012, he offered "$200 for girl in need" on Craigslist.
Deanna Ballman, who was nine months pregnant and separated from her husband, answered the ad and met Salim in the parking lot of a New Albany grocery store.
At his house nearby, Salim injected Ballman in the thigh with heroin. He took videos of himself performing sex acts on Ballman while she was unconscious and in clear respiratory distress from the heroin injection.
Salim also took photos of the unconscious and naked Ballman, posted them to Craigslist, and sought a "teenager" and a "smooth hairless guy" to have sex with her.
When Ballman died of the heroin overdose, Salim drove her body and unborn daughter to another location, where he left them after wiping down the car.
Her body was found in the back seat. Salim's DNA was found on the heroin in Ballman's purse.
Although Salim tried to delete the photos and video that he shot of the unconscious Ballman, they were backed up on his iCloud, and police found them.
After Salim pleaded guilty, the trial court imposed the maximum sentences for rape and involuntary manslaughter of 11 years each, with the sentences to run consecutively.
"The court has read your Hippocratic oath and, in going through the PSI, quite frankly, this is the worst crime this court has ever seen ... but you are a man of medicine, sir, to allow someone to die and you obviously were aware that they were struggling, respiratorily, is unthinkable," the trial judge stated.
Salim also received consecutive sentences of 10 months for abuse of a corpse and 30 months for tampering with evidence.
The Canton-based Fifth District Ohio Court of Appeals upheld the sentences on Aug. 21.
"Given the foregoing considerations by the trial court, and the language utilized in the sentencing entry, we find that the trial court clearly considered the purposes and principles of sentencing under (the law) prior to imposing Appellant's sentence," Judge John Wise wrote for a three-judge panel.
The appellate court credited the sentencing judge's work in imposing consecutive sentences.
"Here, the trial court clearly believed that appellant's actions warranted a harsh sentence," Wise wrote. "Upon review of the record, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court's imposition of a lengthy prison sentence on Appellant, as he pled guilty to a number of serious offenses."
Ballman's sister, Cynthia Skoda, sued Craigslist, Salim and his employer , Knox Community Hospital, last year for the wrongful deaths of Ballman and "her viable fetus, Mabel."
While the appellate court called the "$200 for a girl in need" advertisement a "common subterfuge" for the solicitation of a prostitute, Skoda's lawsuit said Ballman was answering an ad for a house cleaner.
The Newark Advocate reported that "women who previously answered ads placed by Salim reported being accosted, sexually assaulted or asked to be alone in the house while he painted the human digestive system on their abdomens."