Testimonys finished in trial over Kiska murder
Posted: 04/19/2012 at 1:15 am
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GOSHEN — The recurring theme in the final day of testimony Wednesday in the murder trial of Tyrice Halliburton was love.
The day started with Sheena Kiska’s fiancee talking about the love they shared.
In the middle, they heard of the love Halliburton’s girlfriend had for him, love that she said led her to cover up the crime.
At the end, they saw a video with Kiska and the two young children she loved. That poignant home movie of everyday life, stolen from Kiska’s apartment a month before her brutal death, left tears in the eyes of some of the jurors.
Today, April 19, those jurors will decide whether Halliburton is guilty in the murder and, if so, whether to recommend a life sentence for the 30-year-old man.
When prosecutors charged Halliburton in early 2011, they filed a document citing two jailhouse informants who told police Halliburton confessed to Kiska’s murder.
Those informants never even took the stand.
Instead, prosecutors relied on the testimony of Nicole DeFronzo, Halliburton’s live-in girlfriend at the time.
When they talked on the phone the afternoon of March 18, 2008, Halliburton told DeFronzo something that shocked her, “that he had killed our neighbor.”
She couldn’t believe it until he continued, telling her he’d been burglarizing their apartment for the second time in the span of a month. “He was in their apartment and she came home and he wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t want to get caught, so he killed her,” she told the jurors.
He detailed the struggle he had with Sheena. At the end of the struggle, jurors learned Tuesday, Sheena’s body had more than 50 knife wounds.
Her 4-year-old daughter, Natalie, found her mother’s body.
Now Natalie and her brother, who was only a few months old when their mother died, is being raised by Jake Callihan.
He opened testimony Thursday with the romance he and his fiancee had, talking about their life together.
He also talked about yelling from outside the apartment, trying to get Kiska to come out on the balcony to talk to him because Bristol police wouldn’t let him in their apartment building.
He didn’t know she’d tried to get out on that balcony earlier as she bled, but had been dragged back inside, according to evidence and to what Halliburton told DeFronzo.
He worried that a can of Mace he used on Kiska’s dog during the burglary was left in the apartment, linking him to the crime.
DeFronzo loved him, and they planned to marry, so she helped cover up his involvement, she said.
He wanted to talk to TV reporters so “that it would convince people that he had nothing to do with it,” she said.
She helped him get rid of a computer and camcorder he’d stolen in the February burglary, and helped him burn his bloody clothes.
Halliburton went to prison for possessing stolen property after police found the DVD player stolen in the first burglary in his car. DeFronzo kept up with him, but eventually moved on. She kept the secret for a long time.
Last Christmas, though, “It began to wear on me and I broke down and I told” her parents, she said. They talked her into coming forward with the truth.
As she testified, she identified the Mace can found in Kiska’s apartment as the one Halliburton left there.
She conceded to Halliburton’s attorney, Cliff Williams, that she lied for years to a variety of people.
“I lied up until I decided to tell the truth,” she said.
Williams asked her if she planned to lie again. She said she doesn’t.
“Habits die hard,” he said.
The final piece of evidence — Halliburton chose not to take the stand — was a video DeFronzo said she recently discovered in a backpack in her closet.
It was one that had been stolen in the first burglary, a video of normal family life with Kiska and the children.
The simple, every-day interaction between Natalie, her brother and her mom moved the jurors and audience, a sharp contrast to the violent end of her life only weeks later.