Ohio ex-doctor appeals sentence for woman's death

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A former doctor convicted of causing the death of an expectant mother with a heroin overdose did not deserve his 36-year sentence despite the seriousness of the crimes, a lawyer said Tuesday as he appealed his client's prison term.

Ali Salim received the sentence last month at a hearing in Delaware County court where a judge called his offenses the worst crime he had ever seen.

Salim pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for the reduced charges he faced, said his attorney, Sam Shamansky.

"We're going to make a strong argument to the court, that although these were certainly serious crimes, they're not the worst forms of the offense, and he did not deserve the punishment he received," Shamansky said Tuesday.

Salim, 45, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the 2012 deaths of Deanna Ballman and her nearly full-term child, to be named Mabel. He also pleaded guilty to a type of rape charge under which he maintained his innocence while acknowledging prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.

Salim faced a maximum of 37 years in prison and received almost of all that, with Delaware County Judge Duncan Whitney ordering the sentences for involuntary manslaughter and rape served back-to-back, along with slightly reduced sentences for the two remaining charges of tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. Salim is housed at the state's Correctional Reception Center in Orient in central Ohio.

The Delaware County prosecutor's office will fight the appeal.

"The state's position at sentencing was and continues to be that Mr. Salim deserved maximum consecutive sentences for all the counts that he plead guilty to," Kyle Rohrer, assistant Delaware County prosecutor, said Tuesday.

Ballman, 23, was found dead in the backseat of her car on a rural road a few miles from Salim's house the day after she answered an online ad that Salim had placed soliciting sex.

Investigators say Ballman had been forced to turn to prostitution to support herself and two young children after returning to Ohio following a divorce.

They say Ballman was not a drug user and died after Salim injected her with heroin. He frequently provided drugs to young female prostitutes he solicited online, according to court filings.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.