Halligan set for November jury trial

The man accused of stabbing and severely injuring an ice skating instructor will likely have a jury trial a few weeks from now.

Ryan T. Halligan, 30, is accused of committing a brutal assault on Emaly “Emma” Baxter outside the Hamilton Center Ice Arena on Oct. 23, 2020.

The defendant is facing five felonies, attempted murder, a Level 1 felony; aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony; criminal confinement while armed with a deadly weapon, a Level 3 felony; strangulation, a Level 6 felony and auto theft, a Level 6 felony, according to court documents.

In addition, two misdemeanor charges — operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person and interference with the reporting of a crime — were also filed against the defendant.

If convicted of all charges, the defendant could face a potential sentencing range of 27 to 79 years in prison, as well as fines of up to $60,000. But longer sentences and larger fines are possible because the prosecutor’s office is also seeking to have Halligan sentenced as a habitual offender if found guilty.

During a pre-trial conference Monday, public defender Aaron Edwards and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Greg Long said they are ready to proceed with a trial scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2, with jury selection beginning at 8:30 a.m. before Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton.

Halligan first requested a fast and speedy trial on Dec. 8, but that was impossible after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Indiana Supreme Court to suspend all jury trials from Jan 21 through March 1. After trials resumed, another delay came on April 9 when the defendant expressed displeasure with his public defender, Benjamin Loheide. The judge replaced Loheide with another public defender, Aaron Edwards.

On April 23, Edwards gave notice he would use a defense of mental disease or defect. But on Oct. 7, the defense withdrew his defense of mental disease or defect. On Sept. 2, Edwards requested a change of venue, but it was denied on Sept. 16.

Documents allege that Halligan, who was driving a stolen car, attacked Baxter, a former professional skater by beating, stabbing and choking her after a car accident in the arena’s parking lot. Investigators say Halligan admitted being under the influence of methamphetamine and heroin in the hours prior to the early morning attack.

Meanwhile, an out-of-county judge has been selected to hear a civil lawsuit filed by Halligan against Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers. In a handwritten complaint, the defendant claims Myers denied him exercise last November, denied his Eighth Amendment rights concerning excessive bail or cruel and inhuman punishment, refused to review his case for 30 days, subjected the defendant to illegal search and seizure, and did not the defendant fair or equally by his placement within the jail.

During this period, Halligan was found guilty of three infractions of regulations at the Bartholomew County Jail that officials say were related to one or more physical assaults or confrontations with either inmates or staff. He admitted his guilt to at least one of the infractions, online court documents state.

Halligan is seeking $70,000 from Myers in a case to be heard by Special Judge Matthew Bailey of Decatur Superior Court. At this time, no court dates have been set in the civil case.