Court proceedings pushed back in Internet crime caseDeadline passes without a peep
The deadline for a plea agreement to be filed in the federal case against Slayton native Ryan Balster passed Tuesday with no plea filed as of 5 p.m., according to U.S. court records electronic access.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The deadline for a plea agreement to be filed in the federal case against Slayton native Ryan Balster passed Tuesday with no plea filed as of 5 p.m., according to U.S. court records electronic access.
A third request for a continuance has been filed of behalf of Balster, who was indicted May 6 for traveling to meet a minor, using the Internet to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity and using the Internet to transfer obscene material to a minor.
Balster was living in Jasper when he allegedly made arrangements over the Internet to meet a 12-year-old girl at a park in Sioux Falls, S.D. for the purpose of having sexual contact.
But the 12-year-old he was conversing with online was really an undercover officer. When Balster arrived at the meeting place on May 1, wearing the shirt he had described online and driving the car he had told the “girl” to look for, he was met by officers of the Sioux Falls Police Department. During an interview at the law enforcement center, Balster allegedly admitted to chatting with a 12-year-old girl and arranging a time and place to have sex with her.
Because Balster had crossed the state line to allegedly commit a crime, the case was remanded to the federal court system. Blaster was assigned a federal public defender and the date for trial was set for July 1, with a plea agreement deadline of June 5.
A first motion to continue was filed May 20, with the defense asking for a 60 day extension because it was anticipated that expert services would be required. Balster waived his right to a speedy trial, and a new trial date of Sept. 9 was set, with a plea agreement deadline of July 31.
A second motion to continue was filed in mid-July, requesting another 60 days because the expert had not completed a final report and some discovery requests were outstanding. New dates were set — Sept. 23 as a plea agreement deadline and Nov. 4 for trial.
The defense has filed a third motion asking for an additional 30 days, but that motion has not yet been granted.
“Defendant’s expert consultant has not issued a final report,” the Sept. 8 motion states. “Defendant’s counsel cannot decide whether pretrial motions are possible or useful until the expert has submitted his final report.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Salter of the U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota, judges in such matters have a considerable amount of leeway, so an order setting new dates for trial and deadlines may still be forthcoming. While Salter was hesitant to comment on the Balster case specifically, he did say the passing of the plea agreement deadline did not tie the courts to any one course of action. A plea agreement could still be forthcoming, or the case could go on to jury trial.