GOSHEN — Tyrice Halliburton will spend the rest of his life in prison for the 2008 murder of his neighbor, Sheena Kiska.
“I’m still innocent,” the 31-year-old former Bristol man said this morning, May 17, at his sentencing hearing in Elkhart Circuit Court.
Judge Terry Shewmaker, in considering the jury’s recommendation for life without parole, told Halliburton, “It was a horrible crime scene created by you.”
Kiska was stabbed, slashed and cut more than 50 times, bleeding to death on the floor of the living room in the apartment out of which she, her children and her fiance were in the process of moving.
Kiska’s daughter, Natalie, was 4 when she discovered her mom’s bloody body inside their Bristol apartment in March of 2008. In court, Natalie’s grandmother read a letter Natalie, now 9, wrote.
“Why did you do it? You took my mom away from me and my brother. I don’t know why you did what you did,” Natalie wrote, lamenting that her younger brother will never know their mom.
She continued, “You are a horrible man ... I wish that you weren’t even born. If that happened this wouldn’t have happened.”
Deborah Kiska, Sheena’s mom, said her granddaughter “is tortured in her sleep. She cries at night for her mother,” and she’s haunted by the memories.
Deborah Kiska said her daughter “was all about family. She loved her children just as your mother loved you,” but she noted that Halliburton’s mother can visit him in prison.
Curtis Hill, the county prosecutor, said, “It’s been four years, four long, very tough years for Sheena Kiska’s family” and loved ones, and nothing can bring her back.
“They lost her to an incredibly vicious attack, an attack by her neighbor, completely unwarranted,” Hill argued to the judge.
According to testimony in the trial, Kiska came into the apartment as Halliburton burglarized it for the second time in about a month. The first burglary was what led Kiska to move out, but when she interrupted the second one, Halliburton knifed her in order to avoid getting caught, according to testimony.
“He butchered her, judge,” Hill said. “He took knives and he sliced her, he stabbed her, he cut her.”
Aside from proclaiming his innocence and saying he plans to appeal, Halliburton apologized for his behavior the last day of his trial.
Shewmaker went through the details of that, with Halliburton cursing as Hill spoke to the jury, then Halliburton breaking the courtroom door and a marble panel on the wall behind it as he banged into it on the way out during a recess.
Sheriff’s deputies asked to have Halliburton restrained for the rest of the trial, but Shewmaker said the law doesn’t allow that. “It would’ve been inappropriate to permit Mr. Halliburton to appear before the jury in shackles,” Shewmaker said. The judge noted that both Hill and Cliff Williams, chief public defender, objected to the sheriff’s department request.
However, during the end of the trial, Shewmaker said, “the defendant himself must have removed a leg restraint underneath his clothing.” As deputies took him out of the courtroom following the jury’s recommendation of life in prison, “The defendant ran from the security officers out of the courtroom,” the judge said.
He injured some officers, but never got out of the building.
Halliburton said Thursday, “I’m sorry for breaking the door and running. My emotions were messed up.”