FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –During his transport to police headquarters, Timothy L. Hall, Jr. admitted he shot his sister’s fiancé.
“I made a bad mistake,” he told Fort Wayne officer Nicholas Lichtsinn on the way to police headquarters as his sister’s fiance, Manuel Mendez, lay dead on the ground with 18 bullets shot in him. “I stood up for my sister.”
Hall, 29, was enraged when he heard Mendez had given his sister, Kayla Cyrus, a black eye. On June 13, 2020, he attended a birthday party at his sister’s home, taking his 2-year-old son with him. He was also packing a 9mm gun.
Wednesday, a jury found Hall guilty of murder, criminal recklessness, resisting law enforcement, neglect of a dependent and using a firearm in the commission of an offense. He was found not guilty of pointing a firearm at another person, although the jury had checked the guilty box and then used white-out to change it.
Hall’s sentencing is set for Oct. 31 at 9:00 a.m.
It was another murder case that split families apart. On a Venn diagram, the Mendez family and Hall’s people would be represented on the outside curves, but in the middle, people related to Timothy and Kayla – spouses, parents and children.
In an unusual step, Hall testified on his own behalf Wednesday, the last day of the three day trial in front of Superior Court Judge David Zent.
Even though he was incensed that Mendez,34, had blackened his sister’s eye, Hall was fearful of Mendez, who was reportedly gang affiliated and had been incarcerated. At the party, he became intoxicated, according to court testimony.
Indeed, one of the questions the jury asked Hall was “are you alcohol intolerant? Another was ‘did your sister ask you to help her with Mendez? to which he replied ‘no.’
Hall was leaving the party after midnight with his son in the back seat, according to a probable cause affidavit written by Donald Lewis, former homicide detective, and to court testimony. His sister, concerned he was intoxicated, tried to pull the toddler from the car and Hall pulled his gun on her. She went back into the house and Mendez came out to talk to Hall, a talk that led to the deadly altercation.
That is where the narrative differs. While Cyrus and the state maintained that Mendez was a peacemaker, the one who “always tried to talk people down if they were arguing,” that wasn’t the picture painted by defense attorney Alexander Newman.
Witnesses said they saw Mendez take a swing at Hall, Newman said in closing arguments, after Mendez escalated the argument, rather than de-escalating it.
“It wasn’t peaceful. He (Mendez) was about to pop off,” Newman said. “That is the commencement of physical violence.”
Although he wasn’t armed at the time of the fight, an autopsy showed he had been using drugs – heroin, cocaine, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and norfentanyl among others. At the autopsy, a glass pipe burnt at both ends was a crack cocaine pipe, Newman said. The family said Thursday that the glass pipe was a portion of a broken vape pen.
“What about that black eye?” Newman asked. “Prison didn’t teach him a damn thing.”
His client went into flight mode and was chased by Fort Wayne police from Lima Road to Larry’s Auto Sales on N. Clinton where he was forced to stop because he plowed into four cars.
The flight was part of Hall’s fear for his life and part of the the reason Newman tried to say it was self-defense.
“You don’t have to love it,” Newman said. “You don’t have to like it. That’s the law.”
But Allen County prosecutors Tom Chaille and Tesa Helge said fear or no fear, Hall didn’t deserve a free pass.
Who is Tim Hall – a protector or “some guy who points a gun at his sister?” Helge asked the jury during closing arguments.
Hall fired his gun at Mendez who turned to deflect the bullets. He was shot in the back, in the front, in the chest and neck, Chaille said.
An autopsy photo showed him with a constellation of bullet holes on his torso just above intricate tattoos.
Cyrus, a nurse, was one of those trying to save Mendez as people called 911 almost as quickly as he fell to the ground in front of his home on Gillmore Drive, Chaille said. Dispatchers heard people screaming and trying to resuscitate him. Hall’s sister was one of those putting her fingers in the bullet holes, trying to stanch the flow.
“But there were too many,” she said.
“This wasn’t a close call,” Chaille told the jury. “There were choices made.”
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