INDIANAPOLIS — Tyrice Halliburton, who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of 23-year-old Sheena Kiska, lost his appeal after the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the trial court's judgment.
Halliburton, 32, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole May 17, 2012, in Elkhart Circuit Court.
His attorney, Joel Weineke, said during oral arguments April 11 that some of the evidence in his trial was erroneously admitted by the court.
Weineke said some of the photographs taken at the scene of the incident and admitted in his client's trial were overly gruesome, inappropriate and irrelevant. He also said the trial judge erred in instructing 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.
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.
Halliburton was not charged with murder until 2011, while he was in prison serving on a burglary conviction.
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.
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.
The Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not commit an error in admitting the photographs.
“Further we have acknowledged that autopsy photographs often present unique problems because the pathologist has manipulated the body in some way during the autopsy,” the court decision said. “And autopsy photographs are generally inadmissible if they show the body in an altered condition.”
However, according to the court decision, there are some situations in which some alteration of the body is allowed when it's necessary to demonstrate testimony.
The Supreme Court also ruled that the limiting instructions regarding certain evidence given by the court were not improper.