Riverside woman accused of murdering ex-boyfriend pleads guilty to lesser charge

A 42-year-old woman who was charged with murder after fatally shooting her ex-boyfriend at her Riverside home when he tried to flee with their son has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Balinda Dawn Ballinger killed 41-year-old Thomas Laughrey of Riverside in February 2018.

In exchange for Ballinger’s admission to the felony count on Friday, Nov. 18, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop a murder charge and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 5 at the Riverside Hall of Justice. The prosecution and defense agreed to a term of one year in jail and three years probation, with half of the custody to be served in either the Riverside County sheriff’s work-release program or under home detention, when Ballinger would be required to wear an ankle monitor, the plea agreement says.

Ballinger is free on her own recognizance.

According to testimony from the preliminary hearing, on the night of Feb. 23, 2018, she and Laughrey argued inside her house in the 2000 block of Stratford Way. Laughrey was inebriated during the encounter, according to investigators.

They had quarreled on prior occasions, resulting in alleged acts of domestic violence against Ballinger, according to the defense.

During their final argument, Laughrey grabbed the couple’s toddler son and tried to leave with him, carrying the boy sideways on his hip, according to preliminary hearing testimony. Ballinger retrieved a handgun and leveled it at the victim, firing one time. He was struck in the head and died three days later.

Ballinger’s attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, and DA spokeswoman Amy McKenzie said they would withhold comment on the plea until Ballinger is sentenced.

SCNG Staff Writer Brian Rokos contributed to this report.

Related Articles

Crime and Public Safety |

Moreno Valley woman pleads guilty in schemes to steal pandemic unemployment, sickness benefits

Settlement requires Pomona police to weigh alternatives to deadly force
Murrieta man gets 5 years for using COVID funds to buy Apple computer, Mercedes-Benz
Arcadia woman gets 20 years in prison for bilking investors in Coachella development out of $26 million
Man charged with murder in San Jacinto crash that killed deputy, daughter