Balle Gets Life Sentence In Jackson County Murder

A Coast man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole for the sexual assault and death of a woman two years ago. A Jackson County jury convicted Michael Balle of capital murder yesterday in the April 20th, 2000, death of Rachel Bellman.

Her body was found in a wooded area off Mississippi 57, wrapped in a carpet. She had been strangled and stabbed.

Balle is the second person to be convicted in Bellman's death. Joshua Brink was convicted earlier this year and also sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Circuit Judge King Jackson sentenced Balle after Assistant District Attorney Ben Saucier said the state would not seek the death penalty. Saucier says the decision on the sentence was made after talking with Bellman's mother.

Bellman was last seen at Rumours Lounge in Ocean Springs. Her body was discovered behind an abandoned house in the area.

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