Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 20, 2012

Murderer flees: Halliburton found guilty, jury recommends life without parole

GOSHEN — Tyrice Halliburton re-entered the courtroom at 2:43 p.m. Thursday to hear the verdict. He waited for the jury to return. He waited seven minutes to learn he was a convicted murderer.

Three hours and 10 minutes later, Halliburton learned that same jury was recommending he spend life in prison without parole for killing Sheena Kiska.

Then he was a man on the run. Briefly.

Around 6 p.m., as he was being led out of Elkhart Circuit Court in the Goshen courthouse, Halliburton turned his head toward someone in the front row of the audience section. “I love you,” he said just before exiting.

Then a commotion and a crash was audible. Attorneys and Elkhart County Sheriff’s deputies ran through the doorway after Halliburton.

Soon after, police reported that Halliburton tried to flee but was apprehended.

“He ran,” Bristol Town Marshal Mike Swallow said. “He never made it out of the building.”

The escape attempt wasn’t Halliburton’s first disruption Thursday.

Earlier — after the first guilty verdict and with the jury out of the courtroom — Halliburton was being escorted from the room when he was heard to say, “... because I’m about ready to bug the f--- out.” Then he hit or kicked a door and broke a small portion of it.

Later, a seemingly calmer Halliburton was led back in. Judge Terry Shewmaker told Halliburton sheriff’s officers had asked that he be restrained. Shewmaker said he was reluctant to do so.

The judge asked Halliburton if he could behave himself for the rest of the trial.

“Yes,” Halliburton said.

A young mother dead

Prosecutors said Halliburton murdered Sheena Kiska, a 23-year-old mother of two, on March 18, 2008, at Bristol’s River Shores Apartments. On Thursday, a jury agreed.

Kiska returned to her home, apartment 723, while Halliburton was burglarizing it. He stabbed her to death. He lived in apartment 721.

In March 2008, Kiska lived at River Shores with her fiance, 4-year-old daughter and infant son, but the family was preparing to move. Their home had been burglarized the month before. According to court testimony, Halliburton was the burglar then, too.

This week, jurors heard from Halliburton’s ex-girlfriend, who testified he called her just after killing Kiska and said he’d committed the crime. She also said she helped cover up his involvement in the murder.

Among others, jurors also heard testimony this week from:

• Bristol Police Department Chief Deputy Mike Albin, who said Halliburton’s story kept changing during interviews.

First Halliburton saw Kiska alive at 1:15 the day of her death as he was leaving the building, Albin said. Then he claimed to see a neighbor leaving her apartment with a spot of blood on his shirt.

In a later revision, Halliburton said he saw — through a small gap in a doorway — that same neighbor “cutting (Kiska) up by the TV.”

“He said, ‘I think she came back at the wrong time,’” Albin testified. He also indicated Halliburton could not have seen Kiska’s body from his vantage point. And Albin said details offered by Halliburton matched what police knew about the murder — facts that hadn’t been shared with Halliburton.

In 2010, Albin said, Halliburton told police he hadn’t actually seen his neighbor murder Kiska.

• Kiska’s fiance, Jake Callihan, who said he came home from work on March 18, 2008, to see police vehicles and ambulances at River Shores. He soon realized the problem was in his apartment building. Authorities weren’t letting anyone in or out.

Through a friend, Callihan learned that a neighbor had found a little girl holding a baby. The girl said her mom was hurt. Kiska had a 4-year-old daughter and an infant son.

Callihan said he ran to the back of the apartment building.

“I screamed and hollered for Sheena,” he said, hoping she’d come to the balcony so he could see she was OK.

A police officer asked Callihan who he was.

“Him and a couple officers told me what happened ... That she was dead,” Callihan testified.

The children had been outside the apartment building in a borrowed Ford F150 truck — the one Kiska and Callihan were using to move — when their mother entered apartment 723 for the last time.

After hearing the news of Kiska’s death, Callihan found the children.

“I just held them,” he said in court.

Callihan and Kiska had a son together, and he’s adopted Kiska’s daughter, now 9 years old.

The verdicts

The jury found Halliburton, who didn’t testify at his trial, guilty of murder after about two hours of deliberation.

Prior to that, jurors listened to defense attorney Cliff Williams. He said there was no DNA evidence linking Halliburton to the crime. He called into question the truthfulness of Halliburton’s ex-girlfriend, Nicole DeFronzo, who came forward with what she knew nearly four years after the murder.

Williams said it wasn’t reasonable to think Halliburton did what he did — commit murder, clean up, ditch the clothes he was wearing — in the timeframe laid out by prosecutors.

“There is reasonable doubt in this case,” Williams told jurors.

Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill said Thursday the last thing he wanted to do was defend DeFronzo — she withheld vital information for far too long, he said. Hill also said DeFronzo provided links in the case prosecutors already had against Halliburton.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Becker said Kiska fought hard for her life. But Hill later described the situation differently — he called it a slaughter.

“She was stabbed over 50 times,” he said. “She never had a chance ... Can you imagine what’s going on in her mind?”

“What about that moment she knew there was no coming back?” Hill asked.

Prosecutors sought life without parole for Halliburton because he killed Kiska during a burglary. That phase of the trial prompted a second round of jury deliberations. It also included testimony from Halliburton’s mother, Sharon Bryson.

As a young child, Bryson said, Halliburton fell from a second-story window and struck his head on concrete. She said her son was later hyper and had behavioral problems at school. Educators said he had attention-deficit, impulse control problems, a learning disability and emotional handicaps.

There were years of counselors, doctor visits and treatments for Halliburton. Bryson also said that when Halliburton was 2 or 3, his biological father cut ties with him.

On the witness stand, Bryson described Halliburton as a calm, peaceful person. She asked that the jury have mercy on him.

“I love my son,” she said.

Halliburton is scheduled to be sentenced in Circuit Court May 17.

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