Garner enters plea of no contest in Halpern killing

LIMA —One of the accused in the killing of 17-year-old Lima resident Jaden Halpern, Khyrese Garner, entered a plea of no contest in a hearing Friday morning at the Allen County Court of Common Pleas.

Judge Terri Kohlrieser told Garner, 18, that the plea would carry a sentence of life with a possibility of parole after 15 years, following statements from family members of the victim and deliberations.

“Other than switching places, you are in the exact place you should be,” Halpern’s sister said in a statement to Garner. “You will receive visitation, but that is what I wish I could get with my brother. You don’t realize how lucky you are.”

In June 2022, Garner and five other defendants, four of whom, including himself, were minors at the time, attempted to rob Halpern by luring him out of his home, but when one of the group tried to force his way inside the home and Jaden’s father, David Halpern saw what he believed to be an assault rifle, he fired a shot which hit his son, according to a story in the Lima News from August.

Garner’s attorney Kenneth Rexford asked the Halpern family to understand that Garner was accepting responsibility by entering the plea.

“I just want to say I’m sorry and I didn’t intend to take anyone’s life myself,” Garner said in his statement. “I pray you can find peace and that you can forgive us someday.”

Kohlrieser, with both families in attendance in tears, addressed Garner after handing down the sentence.

“This court faces people who didn’t intend for things to happen but because of choices they make, things do happen,” she said. “I can only imagine if I was in that house that I would do what I need to do to defend my family.”

By pleading no contest and waiving his right to a jury trial, Garner allowed Kohlrieser to deliver her decision and in turn had charges of aggravated burglary and robbery both with firearm specifications dismissed.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.