Driver pleads not guilty in fatal crash

A trial is scheduled for Feb. 4 after Michael William Ball whispered "not guilty" four times to charges he killed a mother of four in a July 16 car crash while allegedly high on marijuana and driving more than 100 mph.

Ball, 23, faces up to 52 years in prison if he's convicted of four felonies, including two for driving under the influence of marijuana and causing 46-year-old Tamra Dykes' death and injuring his 23-year-old passenger Travis Hayes.

Ball made his first appearance Tuesday in Douglas District Court before Judge David Gamble. He was bound over earlier this month from East Fork Justice Court.

Ball of Gardnerville is scheduled to be tried Feb. 4 beginning at 9 a.m. The trial is slated for four days. The trial's second day is Feb. 6 to allow for motions in Gamble's court.

Testimony is expected regarding Ball's impairment level based on his alleged use of marijuana during a six-hour period prior to the crash.

Toxicologists said during a hearing earlier this month they were not sure when he used marijuana, but know it was sometime during the six hours before the 9:30 a.m. crash.

Ball remains in Douglas County Jail on $200,000 bail.

Ball, as during prior court appearances since his July 18 arrest, wept throughout Tuesday's hearing.

Ball is accused of driving an estimated 108 mph on Tillman Lane, crossing the center line and hitting Dykes' car head-on. She died almost instantly.

At the time of the crash, he was free on bail for a drug charge and allegedly driving with a suspended license.

At the start of Tuesday's hearing, Gamble said he knew Dykes, her husband Gary Dykes and his brother, Rob, with whom he is friends.

However, neither Deputy District Attorney Kris Brown nor Ball's lawyer, Teri Roeser, asked Gamble to recuse himself from the case.

Gamble said Gary and Tamra Dykes, of Gardnerville, had been to his home before, but he had not visited their home.

Gamble said he had "no compunction" about his ability to try the case.

Roeser said she also has various connections to the Dykes family, but made Ball aware of the issues. Ball whispered to Gamble he was comfortable with Roeser and there wasn't a problem.

Ball was handcuffed and wore a blue jail jumpsuit with white sneakers.


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