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Wisconsin woman accused of beheading and sexually assaulting lover in meth-fueled slay tears page from Kyle Rittenhouse case and fails

Taylor Schabusiness

Taylor Schabusiness appears in court on June 13 (Law&Crime Network)

Accused drug-fueled dismemberment killer Taylor Schabusiness lost out on a pre-trial motion Tuesday which sought to bar references at trial to her lover as a “victim.”

Appearing in Brown County, Wisc., court alongside her newest attorney Christopher T. Froelich, the defendant failed to persuade Judge Thomas Walsh that Shad Thyrion should only be referred to as “the deceased or the decedent” at trial. Thyrion, 25, was allegedly beheaded and sexually assaulted by the defendant while she under the influence of methamphetamine and trazodone on Feb. 23, 2022.

Schabusiness, 25, asserted through her lawyer Tuesday that use of the term victim has “some connotations” which could result in “unfair prejudice” or lead a jury to certain conclusions. The defense offered examples of words that, in its view, were more neutral ways to describe Thyrion.

Judge Walsh ruled, however, that scrubbing the word entirely from the trial would be “difficult” as it is a term used in “common parlance” by the community. He also distinguished this case — an alleged dismemberment murder — from a case in which a self-defense argument could be made (i.e., a case where it is in dispute as to whether a killing was justified).

In another high-profile Wisconsin homicide case, you may remember, Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial judge refused to let prosecutors refer to the men that the eventually acquitted defendant shot as “victims.”

“The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word, and I think ‘alleged victim’ is a cousin to it,” Rittenhouse trial Judge Bruce Schroeder explained at the time, even as prosecutors called the judge’s ruling a “double standard.”

Judge Bruce Schroeder

Judge Bruce Schroeder, pictured on Nov. 10, 2021, in Kenosha, Wisconsin (Credit Image: © Mark Hertzberg/ZUMA Press Wire)

Judge Walsh was not similarly convinced that the term “victim” would prejudice the jury against Schabusiness. He found the term “appropriate to use in this trial.”

If the term is used to “evoke emotions” or otherwise “inflame” the proceedings, “I’ll stop it,” Walsh said.

The motions hearing, with the exception of motion 3, was otherwise uncontroversial, as the judge recounted a serious of previously stipulated and granted pre-trial motions. These motions were about anything from excluding or limiting mention of prior criminal acts/other misconduct to requiring counsel to share exhibits that will be used in presentations at trial.

The defense did make one request that the prosecution said was “strange.” They asked the judge to instruct potential jurors prior to voir dire as to what reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence are.

After the prosecution called it “a little strange to do before voir dire,” Judge Walsh said he would issue the instruction but only after jury is selected.

“Once we have the jury selected, we’ll do that,” he said.

From here, the judge granted a motion against mentioning that Schabusiness is indigent and represented by a state public defender. Walsh also provided assurances that the defendant’s family members would be provided seating in court should they wish to attend trial.

Judge Thomas Walsh

Judge Thomas Walsh (NBC 26 screengrab)

“Any family that your client has can absolutely be afforded good seating in the courtroom,” Walsh said, noting that, unlike the second row, the first row behind the defendant would be closed off.

Later on in the morning, witness testimony addressed motion 3, which focused on how police arrested Schabusiness and what she said after the fact.

Garth Russell testified that he is the Green Bay police officer and narcotics investigator who responded to the crime scene in search of Taylor Coronado.

He said that he saw the defendant come out of the “common entrance door” as he approached the apartment. After that, Russell said, he learned the woman also went by the last name of Schabusiness and that there was a warrant for her arrest. He saw past mugshots matched her appearance at the scene, so she placed her in custody, and searched her in the police car, according to testimony.

Testimony from Detective David Graf followed thereafter about a series of apparently incriminating statements which the Schabusiness defense wanted suppressed. In recent days, the defense revealed its plan to argue that Shad Thyrion was “not a person” at the time he was allegedly sexually assaulted (because he was already deceased) and that “No sexual assault can be proven due to the penis being disconnected from the body that was found.”

The defense asserted that the charge should be dismissed because “there is no evidence to support a sexual assault other than the defendant’s own statements when she was under the influence of meth and trazadone.”

According to the criminal complaint obtained by Law&Crime, investigators found the victim’s severed head in a bucket in a basement after Thyrion’s mother found the grisly scene at her Green Bay home. Schabusiness allegedly admitted to investigators that she went “crazy” during meth-fueled sex and choked Thyrion to death with the chain that was around his neck.

“Schabusiness stated she then began to choke the Victim, and she described it as the Victim lying face down on the bed with her on top of him pulling on the end of the chain. The Victim coughed up blood and she was just waiting for him to die while she was watching his face. Schabusiness made the comment that she was ‘already this far’ so she just kept on, referring to choking the Victim,” the complaint said. “Schabusiness said in a lower tone of voice, ‘Ya I liked it,’ and Detective Graf believed her to be referring to when she was choking the Victim.”

“Schabusiness stated she thought it took 3-5 minutes for the Victim to die. Detective Kempf clarified with Schabusiness that when the Victim began to cough up blood she just did keep on choking the Victim because she wanted to see what happens. Schabusiness made comments that she blacked out while choking the Victim but when she woke up that the Victim was already purple, so she kept on going,” authorities added. “Schabusiness stated she enjoyed choking him and made comments to detectives asking if they knew what it was like to love something so much that you kill it.”

From here, Schabusiness allegedly told cops that they would “have fun trying to find all of the organs” scattered around the scene, including the victim’s penis.

“Schabusiness stated all of the body parts should be in the basement. Schabusiness stated there should be a foot or a leg in the minivan. Detective Graf asked Schabusiness what she did with the head, and Schabusiness stated she had put the Victim’s head in a black bucket and put a blanket over it,” court documents said.

Det. Kevin Kempf

Det. Kevin Kempf testifies at Taylor Schabusiness hearing on June 13, 2023 (Law&Crime Network)

Court took its first break around 10 a.m. local time. The proceeding resumed soon afterwards with Detective Kevin Kempf testifying that Schabusiness never asked for an attorney, that she voluntarily gave the aforementioned statements, and that she was advised of her Miranda rights.

Detective Phil Scanlan also testified that Schabusiness was read her Miranda rights by Detective Graf, that the defendant understood her rights, and that she did not ask for a lawyer.

During his questioning, Schabusiness’ lawyer repeatedly asked why the Green Bay police Miranda waiver form does not include a “signature line” for defendants to affirm that they understand their rights. Scanlan answered that this is just the way these particular forms are.

Scanlan denied that Schabusiness was in any way coerced by detectives on the case.

The hearing continued well into the afternoon. In the end, Judge Walsh reportedly refused to suppress Schabusiness’ statements and declined to order up another competency examination — two big losses for the defense.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.