Taylor Schabusiness defense argues victim not a person after death

Posted at 4:08 PM, June 1, 2023 and last updated 9:06 AM, June 13, 2023


GREEN BAY, Wis. (Court TV) – Attorneys representing Taylor Schabusiness have filed a motion in her case arguing that charges of sexual assault against her should be dismissed, which is scheduled to be discussed at a hearing on June 13.

Editor’s note: the following story contains graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault.

Taylor Schabusiness in court

Taylor Schabusiness, seen here in court during a motions hearing in April, is charged with homicide, mutilating a corpse and sexual assault. (WGBA)

Schabusiness is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse and third-degree sexual assault in the death of Shad Thyrion in February 2022. When police interviewed Schabusiness after her arrest, detectives said that she confessed to smoking crack and engaging in a sex act with the victim that involved strangulation. In the criminal complaint, police said Schabusiness assaulted the victim’s body after his death.

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After a brief hearing on Thursday, Judge Thomas Walsh ruled that a motion filed by Schabusiness’ attorney in the case on May 24 would be made public. Christopher Froelich, who represents Schabusiness, had argued the document should be sealed so as to not risk tainting a jury because of graphic details contained in the complaint.

The motion to dismiss, filed May 24, asks the Court to dismiss the charge of third-degree sexual assault against Schabusiness, citing a lack of evidence and a defective criminal complaint.

Prosecutors allege that a sex toy was used on the victim, but the defense motion claims that the State lab report was inconclusive for DNA evidence.

Froelich also questioned the reliability of the statements Schabusiness made to police after her arrest, saying that she was under the influence of trazodone and methamphetamine.

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Perhaps most shockingly, Schabusiness’ attorneys are challenging the charges of sexual assault based on whether or not the victim was a person.

Third-degree sexual assault, as defined, 940.225(3) of the Criminal Code of Wisconsin, is committed by one who has sexual intercourse with another person without consent. … The defense argues that (the victim) was not a person at the time of the alleged incident as (the victim) was deceased and therefore, Wis. Stats, 940.225 does not apply. The defense asserts that once the person is deceased, then they no longer are a person as defined under the jury instructions and statute – Wis. Stats. 940.225.

Schabusiness’ attorneys argue that prosecutors have accused their client of having sexual intercourse with the victim, but say that was not possible because prosecutors have also said that “the victim’s appendage (penis) was apparently found separate from the decedent’s body.”

Police said that in addition to the penis, body parts were found in a Jimmy Choo bag, an Under Armor bag and a Crock Pot box in a minivan. “The defense asserts and argues that it would be unlikely and almost impossible for any sexual assault to occur with how the dismembered body was found by law enforcement. The appendage (penis) was not attached to the body when it was found and the appendage was unable to function due to its condition.”

Two documents in the motion, including photos, remain sealed.