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April 17, 2012

Prosecutor says Tyrice Halliburton killed Sheena Kiska during burglary

GOSHEN — On March 18, 2008, a woman looked outside her apartment and saw a child in the rain. A town marshal worked to convince a little girl to show him where she lived.

And a 23-year-old mother of two was stabbed to death in the home she was trying to leave.

Testimony about those details and more emerged Tuesday, the second day of the murder trial of Tyrice J. Halliburton in Elkhart Circuit Court. Prosecutors allege that Halliburton, 30, murdered Sheena Kiska after she came home while he was burglarizing her apartment at Bristol’s River Shores Apartments. Halliburton was her neighbor.

“He was in the back bedroom when Sheena came back,” Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill said in his opening statement Tuesday. Kiska’s children, a 4-year-old daughter and an infant son, were outside in a truck their mother and her fiance planned to use in moving out.

Kiska never saw her children again.

Neighbor testifies

Vicki McClain was a River Shores resident at the time of the murder. She lived in Apartment 922; Kiska was in 723.

On March 18, 2008, McClain looked outside and saw a little girl playing in the rain. McClain thought the girl was carrying a doll.

The child dropped the doll. The “doll” moved. McClain ran downstairs to try to help Kiska’s children.

“(The girl) kept saying her mom was hurt,” McClain said Tuesday. The child also said her mother was bleeding and needed an ambulance.

“She wouldn’t let go of my hand the whole entire time,” McClain said.

Bristol Town Marshal Mike Swallow arrived at the scene. He convinced Kiska’s daughter, Natalie, to show him where she lived.

As he opened the unlocked door and entered the apartment, Swallow saw boxes, containers and a set of keys on the floor. He also saw a knife on the floor.

As he looked to the right, Swallow testified, he saw Kiska’s body on the floor and a second knife lying nearby. The marshal said he checked for a pulse and found none.

Mike Albin, chief deputy with the Bristol Police Department, said a third knife was later found in Kiska’s apartment in a tote, “buried deep down underneath clothing.”  

Crime scene photos were shown to the jury on a screen facing away from the courtroom’s audience section. Halliburton turned to his left at the defense table to view the exhibit.

Injuries

Later Tuesday, forensic pathologist Joseph Prahlow testified that he performed an autopsy on Kiska the day after she was killed. He said Kiska sustained multiple sharp-force injuries — so many and with so many intersecting wounds that he couldn’t get an exact count.

More than 50, Prahlow estimated. He also said Kiska suffered blunt-force injuries to the head.

“Each of the sharp-force injuries likely had associated with it a significant amount of pain,” Prahlow said in response to a question from Hill. He also said many of the wounds could have been fatal in and of themselves.

Court documents

Police have said that Kiska and her fiance were preparing to move from River Shores. They were worried about their safety after their apartment was burglarized in February 2008 — the month before Kiska was killed. A DVD player and other items were stolen.

That DVD player was found in Halliburton’s vehicle 10 days after Kiska’s murder, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Albin. Halliburton later pleaded guilty to a Class D felony count of receiving stolen property, and was incarcerated on that charge and others at Pendleton.

According to Albin’s affidavit, Halliburton admitted killing Kiska to fellow Elkhart County Jail inmates who talked to police.

The scene

Albin testified Tuesday about the crime scene investigation. In addition to the knives, he indicated, police found a canister of pepper spray. Albin also said a dog removed from the scene had been pepper-sprayed.

In his opening statement, Hill alleged that Halliburton did the spraying.

Police changed the locks to the Kiska apartment early in the investigation — then, to Albin’s chagrin, they had trouble unlocking the door. Halliburton was home and saw the frustrated officers.

“He said, ‘I see you’re having problems with that lock,’” Albin recalled. Then the man who would later be charged with Sheena Kiska’s death worked the lock and helped police into her apartment, according to Albin’s testimony.

The murder trial continues today.

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