GOSHEN — After causing problems in court all afternoon, Tyrice Halliburton made a last-ditch attempt for freedom Thursday evening after jurors recommended he serve life in prison for the 2008 murder of his neighbor, Sheena Kiska.
As Prosecutor Curtis Hill talked to the jury, Halliburton let out a couple of expletives, and Judge Terry Shewmaker cautioned everyone in the room to remain quiet.
After that Halliburton told his loved ones, “Y’all better go home, because I’m gonna bug the (expletive) out of here,” and banged the courtroom door, breaking it.
On another trip out of the courtroom, he told them, “I’m gonna find my way home.”
On his final trip out, he told his supporters, including his mom, that he loved them. Then, as Elkhart County Sheriff’s deputies escorted him out of the room, a loud series of bangs crashed through the courtroom as he broke away from officers, plunging down the stairs.
According to police officers who converged on the scene, Halliburton got to an emergency exit, but it didn’t open for him and an alarm sounded.
Halliburton ducked into a nearby office, which was open because of cleaning going on in that part of the building.
Police officers, prosecutors and even a defense attorney ran out and tried to track Halliburton down outside the building before Mike Trujillo, a court security officer, found Halliburton hiding in a women’s bathroom in the basement office.
The escape attempt likely won’t weigh in his favor at his sentencing next month, when Judge Terry Shewmaker decides whether to follow the jury’s recommendation or to sentence Halliburton to a finite sentence of up to 95 years.
The escape try is compounded by the fact he’d earlier promised the judge he’d behave.
Following the breaking of the courtroom door, Shewmaker said, “Mr. Halliburton, I heard what you said when Mr. Hill was talking and I indicated to you I didn’t want to hear more of that.
“Then when you left the courtroom you struck the door,” breaking it. He told Halliburton that deputies requested they be allowed to place Halliburton in restraints.
“I’m hesitant to do that. I’m hopeful we can finish this trial with you behaving. Can you give me assurances you can do that?”
Halliburton replied, “Yes.”
Apparently he changed his mind.
Prosecutors could charge him with escape, but it would be moot if Shewmaker follow’s the jury’s recommendation.