Judge unseals motion on Taylor Schabusiness sex assault charge

The defense says the evidence is inconclusive
The motion asks the judge to dismiss a sexual assault charge in the death of Shad Thyrion
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:31 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 9:25 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Taylor Schabusiness made a brief appearance in Brown County court Wednesday morning, where a judge decided to unseal some documents in the case and keep other evidence under seal.

Schabusiness is charged with the gruesome murder of Shad Thyrion, whose dismembered body was partially found in his mother’s Green Bay home in February 2022. She’s pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect -- Wisconsin’s insanity defense.

The documents unsealed Wednesday have to do with the defense’s motion to dismiss the charge of third-degree sexual assault and the State’s response why the charge should be upheld.

At issue is not only what investigators claim Schabusiness did with the body but whether Thyrion was legally “a person” once he was dead. First, the defense argues the evidence the State says shows sexual assault of the body is inconclusive -- including laboratory testing and because of the dismemberment. Second, it says prosecutors seem to rely on statements Schabusiness made to investigators when she was under the influence of illegal drugs. Third, the defense contends the cited statutes for sexual assault don’t apply because “once the person is deceased, then they no longer are a person as defined under the jury instructions and the statute.”

The judge also unsealed the State’s response, where prosecutors point out the defense doesn’t challenge the first two counts despite facing many of the same issues, including the interrogation of Schabusiness while she was still under the influence. Prosecutors also argue many other actions Schabusiness confessed to at the same time were corroborated by evidence. And on the third point, the State says, the full statute for sexual assault, 940.225, says that it “applies whether a victim is dead or alive at the time of sexual contact or sexual intercourse.”

While the judge unsealed details of this motion, he kept the exhibits sealed due to the disturbing nature of the photos, he said.

“Those are going to remain sealed. As far as the motion itself, I can’t find any real reason why the motion itself can’t be unsealed from the preliminary seal and accessed by the public. Frankly, in reviewing the motion, most of the information in there to support the motion was contained in the criminal complaint,” Judge Thomas Walsh noted.

Judge Walsh set a hearing on June 13 to hear all of the other motions before trial, including the motion to drop the sexual assault charge.

The defense has also asked the judge to consider prohibiting the prosecution from participating in jury selection, which both sides typically do. The judge said at an earlier hearing he’s never considered a motion like that before and that it was unlikely he’ll order that.

At the last motions hearing earlier this month, the judge denied a request to reduce Schabusiness’s $2 million bond.

The court process has been lengthy due to multiple competency hearings and mental evaluations. This past February she lunged at her attorney in the courtroom. That attorney asked to be removed from her case.

Her new lawyer asked for a venue change, saying it would be impossible for her to get a fair trial. That motion was also denied.

Schabusiness’s trial is scheduled to start at the end of July.

The motions hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. This report will be updated.