Ohio doc: Not guilty in pregnant woman's death

February 21, 2013 - 6:29 PM

DELAWARE, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio doctor charged with raping and killing a pregnant woman who responded to an online job ad pleaded not guilty Thursday and is expected to be released on $1 million bail.

Dr. Ali Salim will be on house arrest once he's released from Delaware County Jail as soon as Friday and must surrender his passport and wear a GPS monitoring device until his trial scheduled for early May.

Salim, 44, of New Albany in central Ohio, is accused of killing Deanna Ballman, 23, and her unborn child last summer with a fatal dose of heroin after she responded to an ad for a housekeeper placed by Salim. Ballman was nine months pregnant when she was killed.

Her family has said the ad was for housecleaning services, but Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O'Brien, without elaborating, said Thursday, "that's not quite what we've found."

Delaware County Judge Duncan Whitney rejected prosecutors' arguments for bail of $5 million on the grounds that Salim, a Pakistan native, had reason to leave the country. Prosecutors and Salim's attorney both said they expect Salim to make bail.

Assistant county prosecutor Kyle Rohrer said Salim tried to tamper with evidence and would be a flight risk once he learns that investigators recovered it.

"We believe this is not an isolated incident and that he remains a threat to others in the public if he's released," Rohrer said.

Prosecutors say other women had responded to ads placed by Salim, including one woman who said Salim wanted to paint internal organs on her body.

Rohrer also argued Salim treated Ballman's body "in a very inhumane way." O'Brien, the county prosecutor, declined to elaborate after the hearing.

Salim's attorney said he has represented Salim since last summer and throughout the investigation, including a meeting with investigators in October where Salim provided hair samples.

"If he was going to flee, it would have happened," argued Sam Shamansky, who also noted Salim has been in the country for two decades.

Salim, dressed in an orange jail suit, sat at a table with Shamansky during the hearing and answered questions from the judge.

Licensure information from the state indicates Salim was born in Pakistan and trained there at King Edward Medical College, graduating in 1993. He told the State Medical Board of Ohio that his specialties were internal medicine, emergency medicine and psychiatry.

Salim was working at a health care facility in neighboring Knox County but lost his privileges there once the case became public, Shamansky said.

Shamansky declined reporters' request to talk to Salim.

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