Halligan accepts plea bargain

A Columbus man admitted to trying to murder a professional ice skater and instructor last fall by stabbing and severely injuring her.

Ryan T. Halligan, 30, accepted a plea agreement Monday in which he admits trying to kill Emaly “Emma” Baxter outside of the Hamilton Center Ice Arena on Oct. 23, 2020. Halligan had made a similar confession to police shortly after his arrest, according to court documents.

Under the plea agreement in Bartholomew Superior Court 1, Halligan agrees to plead guilty to attempted murder as a Level 1 felony, as well as accept a habitual offender enhancement. The prosecutor agrees to drop all other charges in the Baxter case, as well as a separate matter where Halligan was accused of violently victimizing a female relative.

Both Baxter and the female relative support the plea agreement that will cap the defendant’s sentence at no more than 50 years, Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash told Judge James Worton. Halligan is scheduled to be sentenced by Worton on Nov. 30 at 2 p.m.

Baxter told police she was driving in the parking lot outside the city ice rink at about 6:30 a.m. when an unknown male crashed his car into her vehicle, according to a probable cause affidavit.

As Baxter attempted to report the accident, the male driver — later determined to be Halligan — got inside her vehicle and told her to get off her cell phone. After Halligan punched and choked Baxter, she attempted to escape through the front passenger door, but he held her down and continued to choke her, the affidavit states.

When Baxter did get out of the vehicle, Halligan fell on top of her and punched her multiple times, court documents state. It was at that time that Halligan told Baxter he was going to kill her and stabbed her in the chest, according to the affidavit.

While on the ground, Halligan is accused of kneeling on the woman’s neck, which restricted her airflow and made it difficult for her to breathe, the court document states.

Less than three minutes after Baxter phoned 911, the arrival of Columbus Police officer Frank Dickman prompted Halligan to flee on foot east over the pedestrian bridge crossing Haw Creek. But he was soon caught hiding behind several stacked sheets of plywood on the porch of a residence.

The Ford Fusion Halligan was driving that was involved in the crash with Baxter’s vehicle had been reported stolen in Indianapolis, according to court documents.

In a separate case, Halligan is accused of forcing his way into a female relative’s apartment during the same month he attacked Baxter to attempt a burglary. When the relative tried to defend herself while calling police, Halligan allegedly tried to strangle her, a probable cause affidavit states.