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Jury hears from fiance, DNA expert in Kiska trial

Testimony continues in the trial of Tyrice Halliburton
Justin Leighty
Posted on April 18, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on April 18, 2012 at 3:58 p.m.

GOSHEN — It was Tyrice Halliburton’s then-girlfriend who connected the dots for the jury this afternoon with a thick, red line between him and the murder of Sheena Kiska.

On the phone the afternoon of March 18, 2008, he told Nicole DeFronzo, “that he killed our neighbor,” DeFronzo testified today, April 18, in Elkhart Circuit Court.

“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,” DeFronzo said.

She gave the jury intimate details about the vicious stabbing inside Kiska’s Bristol apartment.

“I couldn’t wrap my mind around it very well,” DeFronzo said.

She decided to help cover it up because she loved Halliburton, she said.

She testified that she helped him get rid of a laptop computer and camcorder he’d stolen while burglarizing Kiska’s apartment a month before the murder. She helped him burn his bloody clothes.

Now those actions make her feel “awful. Just ashamed,” DeFronzo testified.

Despite her damning testimony, Halliburton, 30, told Judge Terry Shewmaker this afternoon, “I’m not going to testify.”

If he’s convicted, Halliburton faces up to life in prison without parole.

Original story posted at 1:45 p.m.

GOSHEN — Jurors heard from Sheena Kiska’s fiance, and they also heard various stories that came from the man accused of killing Kiska during testimony this morning, April 18, in Elkhart Circuit Court.

The jury also heard about the extraordinary lengths gone to by police and a DNA analyst, but those efforts didn’t turn up enough information to identify Tyrice Halliburton — or anyone else — as Kiska’s killer.

Jake Callihan detailed his romance with Kiska, and jurors got to see a picture of the happy couple. He talked about her making breakfast for him before he went to work.

He also talked about coming home March 18, 2008, finding the Bristol police blocking him from going into their apartment. He talked about screaming for his fiancee to come out on the balcony.

For the jury this morning, he identified Kiska’s glasses, found in a trash can. He identified the bloodied ring that he’d given her to seal their engagement. He identified the DVD player that had been stolen from their apartment a month before Kiska’s death, a burglary that had the couple packing up to move.

He talked about raising their son without his mother, and about raising Kiska’s daughter as his own.

Jurors also heard again from Mike Albin, Bristol’s chief deputy, who interviewed Halliburton repeatedly during the investigation.

At first, Halliburton said he left his apartment to go to the veterinarian’s office at 1:15 p.m. and saw Kiska and her daughter, Natalie, outside.

However, Albin later learned that Kiska didn’t pick up Natalie from day care until 1:25 p.m.

When he followed up with Halliburton, he testified, Halliburton changed his story to say he saw a nearby resident leaving Kiska’s apartment at 1:15 with a blood stain on his shirt.

Then Halliburton again changed his story, telling Albin that as he left to go to the vet, he heard noises from Kiska’s apartment and crept over, looking through the front door, which was open roughly 4 inches.

Halliburton told Albin the neighbor he’d identified was “in there cutting her up by the TV. He was on top of her,” Albin relayed to the jury.

“I recall him basically stating that she was yelling out, calling out,” Albin said.

Halliburton said, “‘I think she came in at the wrong time,’” Albin said.

The problem with Halliburton’s latest story was that, as Marshal Mike Swallow testified Tuesday, Kiska’s body wasn’t visible from the doorway. Albin said you had to be at least 3 feet inside the apartment to see where she lay.

The timing also didn’t match up. Jurors heard this morning from a technician who worked at the vet’s office at that time, who said Halliburton came in at 2:30 with his girlfriend.

She testified that nothing seemed amiss with them, but she said she’d never met Halliburton before.

Albin told jurors about finding the stolen DVD player in Halliburton’s vehicle after Kiska’s death.

In 2010, Halliburton wrote a letter to Albin, apologizing for misleading him about the neighbor and saying he wanted to clear that man’s name.

It was a few months later that prosecutors charged Halliburton.

The rest of this morning’s testimony came from Linda McDonald, a DNA expert with the Indiana State Police.

McDonald detailed the process of evaluating DNA evidence, and said she went to the extraordinary step of coming to the apartment to try to find DNA that didn’t belong to Kiska, Callihan or to Natalie.

“In the 12 1/2 years that I’ve been here, I’ve rarely gone to a crime scene,” McDonald said.

With the evidence she collected, added to the evidence police gathered, she couldn’t exclude Halliburton from stray DNA found at the scene, but there wasn’t enough to identify him, either.

“There just isn’t enough information for me to draw a conclusion,” she said.

“I was unable to find a match to Tyrice,” she testified.

If jurors find Halliburton guilty, they’ll be asked to recommend that Judge Terry Shewmaker sentence Halliburton to life in prison without the possibility of parole.



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