INDIANAPOLIS — A man convicted in the murder of a 23-year-old Bristol woman argues that some of the evidence in his trial was erroneously admitted by the court.
That’s what Tyrice Halliburton’s attorney, Joel Weineke, told the Indiana Supreme Court during Halliburton’s oral arguments hearing Thursday morning, April 11.
Halliburton, convicted in the murder of Sheena Kiska, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole on May 17, 2012.
Kiska’s body was found by her then-4-year-old daughter in her apartment in Bristol on March 18, 2008. A forensic pathologist determined Kiska received more than 50 knife wounds and blunt force trauma to her head.
The day of the attack, police found Halliburton with Kiska’s stolen DVD player. He was later arrested and charged with receiving stolen property.
Kiska had been packing up to move after her apartment was burglarized a month before. According to court documents, Halliburton told fellow inmates and his girlfriend at the time that Kiska walked in on him while he was burglarizing the apartment, and to avoid being caught he killed her.
Halliburton was arrested two years later, after his ex-girlfriend came forward to authorities.
The counsel had 20 minutes to present their argument to the panel of five justices.
Halliburton’s attorney argued that some of the photographs admitted in the trial were overly gruesome, even inappropriate, and irrelevant. Weineke also said the court should not have admitted evidence of a burglary Halliburton had committed at Kiska’s residence a month before her death, nor testimony from a police officer who tried to get into Kiska’s apartment two days after her death and had been offered help from Halliburton to get in.
Weineke said the trial judge also erred in admonishing the jury that some of the evidence that was about to be presented to them, while not admissible to prove the character of Halliburton, was admissible as proof of motive, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
Kelly Miklos, representing the appellee, argued that the evidence was presented in a way that did not lead the jury on how they should have considered it.
Justice Steven David asked Miklos if she would agree that it would have been better if the trial judge had not read instructions to the jury before they were shown evidence of the prior burglary Halliburton had committed. Miklos agreed, but argued all the evidence used was admissible under the evidence rule nonetheless.
Justice Loretta Rush asked Miklos about the value of the large number of photographs —a total of 60— that were presented as evidence during the trial. Miklos explained the photos were no more than a layer of all the evidence that was necessary in making the prosecution’s case.
The justices took the case under advisement and said they will issue a ruling later.