Payson Man Convicted For Domestic Violence

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A Globe jury last week convicted a Payson man on three counts of domestic violence after he attacked his girlfriend with a pair of scissors.

Gasoa Balas is still awaiting trial on separate charges of murder in connection with the death of his daughter in the course of his flight from police after a woman claimed he had assaulted her.

The conviction last week followed a three-day trial, according to Chief Deputy County Attorney Shawn C. Fuller, who prosecuted the case. The jury found Balas guilty on two felony aggravated assault charges and one count of misdemeanor assault.

Evidence at trial indicated that on August 21, 2011 Balas assaulted his girlfriend with a pair of scissors following an argument in their home in Payson. Neighbors called 911 in the early-morning hours after they heard the woman screaming for help.

Payson Police Officer Billy Hoffman quickly responded to the scene and arrested Balas as he was leaving the home. Inside the residence, Officer Hoffman made contact with the victim, who was crying and injured.

In addition to finding Balas guilty of assaulting the victim, the jury found that one of the offenses was a dangerous offense and that two aggravating factors existed: harm to the victim and that the domestic violence was committed in the presence of children.

Presiding Superior Court Judge Peter J. Cahill set sentencing for Oct. 14, 2013. Balas faces a mandatory prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Balas also faces a Dec. 4 trial on murder charges for an unrelated case dating back to August of 2012. In that case, a woman living in a Payson trailer park called police to report that Balas had assaulted her. When police arrived, they found Balas on the scene. He then fled south on Highway 87, at speeds reportedly exceeding 100 miles an hour. He went off the highway. Rescue cars found him trapped in the crumpled wreck. They also found the body of his daughter, who had been in car and was ejected when the car went off the road. When he realized his 7-year-old daughter had died in the wreck, he reportedly begged police officers to shoot him. Later, he said he didn’t know the girl was in the car.

The woman whose call to police triggered the chase initially said she did not want to press charges.

Prosecutors have charged Balas with seven felony counts in that case, including second-degree murder, child abuse, unlawful flight and DUI. He was also charged with aggravated assault on a police officer because he nearly drove over two officers as he fled the trailer park.

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