Draw Your Own Conclusions

Why would a deputy who admitted to cruelly doctoring a crime-scene photo get a sweet promotion only months afterward?

Balicki isn't suffering from memory loss. In fact, he's positive of two conflicting versions. At his deposition, he stated he didn't know who had doctored the crime-scene photograph and never had a single conversation about it. Two years later, in October, on the witness stand, Balicki proposed another story. He turned to the jury and said, "I knew it [the drawing] had come from my sergeant."

He's now also able to say what was in Betzler's mind. "He was making light of my shooting ability," offered Balicki, who fired three expert shots into Peralez's chest and heart and 10 minutes later went to McDonald's to eat breakfast. "It wasn't offensive toward the shooting."

That assertion doesn't square with Betzler's original version. He's admitted that the artwork had been the heart of a joke about the killing. "It was probably a bad attempt at, you know, I don't know, some humor between myself and Balicki," he said.

There are more than inconsistencies and contradictions. Circumstantial evidence reveals Balicki's character regardless of who created the artwork. For two years until my exposé, the deputy kept it as a souvenir on his desk, alongside other personal mementos. Lawyers representing the Peralez family asked him why. Balicki replied, "I don't know."

Was it worth saving?

"I don't know?

Did it have value to you?

"I just didn't feel the need to throw it away."


For more stories, go to the Sheriff's Scandal Archives.

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