9:48 AM, May 26, 2004   |    comments
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    "Leslie Ballard threatened her mother, so for that whole week she lived in perfect dread of what was going to happen." Those are the words of Mildred Cobb, long time friend of Janie Ballard. She says the Little Rock woman was afraid for her life in the days before her brutal murder. Ballard's daughter, Leslie MacKool, is now on trial, accused of killing Ballard for inheritance money. The state's first witnesses were called Tuesday in MacKool's trial. One witness said Ballard was afraid her daughter or son-in-law might try to kill her for the family estate. The prosecution also played a recording of MacKool's confession. In it, she describes dressing in dark clothing, wearing a dark wig, and hiding outside her mother's house, waiting for her to come home, and then stabbing her more than 70 times. MacKool's attorneys, bound by a judge's gag order, said in court that her husband, 50-year-old Michael MacKool, manipulated her. He goes to trial next month and also faces a capital murder charge. According to Leslie's confession, Michael coached her on how to kill Ballard and make the crime scene look like a botched robbery. She also said if she did not go through with the attack, Michael would kill her. Cobb says money and Michael MacKool were always problems between the mother and daughter. Ballard had just inherited her late husband's estate, believed to be worth more than $1 million, and Leslie was to get $25,000. Cobb says Lester Ballard "wasn't going to leave money to this man to throw away." Now, instead of getting any money, Cobb says Leslie may be the one paying the price by spending the rest of her life behind bars. "But her mother would not want the death sentence," Cobb says. "I do think she would approve of her being put away." Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty for Leslie MacKool. If convicted, she could serve life in prison. Michael MacKool is scheduled to be tried June 14th. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for him.

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