SHEPHERDSVILLE - There were tears throughout the Bullitt Circuit Courtroom on Wednesday afternoon.
Nineteen months to the day, a Bullitt County jury deliberated for less than three hours to decide that Steven Hallman was guilty in the shooting death of his wife.
And the panel would return on Thursday to determine that Hallman should serve 25 years in prison for the Oct. 13, 2007, murder of Kimberly Nugent Hallman.
As members of both families cried after the verdicts, sheriff’s deputies led Hallman to the Bullitt County Detention Center.
Final sentencing has been set for June 22 at 1:30 p.m. He would have to serve at least 20 years before being eligible for parole consideration.
The victim’s family said it was hard to express their emotions at the time of the verdict.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Jerry Nugent, the victim’s father. “I wouldn’t want any family to go through this.”
He said the process has included 65 trips to the courthouse, including a mistrial.
“It has been very emotional,” said Della Nugent. The mother said it was bittersweet as she was pleased that justice had been done but the accused was also like part of their family for a couple of years.
Kimberly’s parents said there was no indication that the couple had any problems other than the normal arguments.
“They had their whole life ahead of them,” said Jerry Nugent.
The pair were attending the University of Louisville and both were set to graduate in December 2007. He was going into nursing and she was receiving her degree in psychology and had a second job interview with Jewish Hospital.
“She was always there for me when I needed her,” said younger sister, Sarah.
Christine Nugent Skaggs said she remembered growing up and dressing up the cats in Cabbage Patch outfits and pushing them around in a carriage.
Jerry said Kimberly knew that when her parents were working on the weekends, she make sure Sarah made it to Sunday School and church.
“That was the type person she was,” said her father.
Mom remembered her daughter’s laughter and sense of humor, along with her love of animals.
“She loved family and friends,” said Della. “She loved family gatherings.”
The 19-month journey ended early Wednesday afternoon.
It started in a residence off Beech Grove Road.
Written and taped statements by Steven Hallman, 31, there was an argument on that particular Saturday. After being told by his wife to leave, Hallman went to his vehicle and got a gun.
He told Shepherdsville police that he didn’t intend to shoot himself but he wanted his wife to know that it was a possibility. He made noise with the gun that he thought was empty.
An eight-year military veteran, Hallman said he wife pulled the gun away from him and in the struggle it discharged, striking her in the side of the head.
However, autopsy reports showed that it was a single gunshot inside the mouth.
During his closing argument, prosecutor Mike Ferguson said that the suspect had several conflicting stories. He thought it was odd that Hallman never called his wife by name and that he said he didn’t remember something over 30 times during his interview.
At no time during the time after the shooting did Hallman perform CPR on his wife, said Ferguson, despite being a nursing student. However, he told dispatchers on three occasions that he was performing CPR.
During his interviews, Hallman said the couple was stressed with school and Kimberly was worried about possibly having medical issues and being suicidal. Ferguson presented witnessed that testified that Kimberly Hallman suffered from none of those problems.
“He was making it up as he went along,” Ferguson said of the stories told by Hallman.
Ferguson said Hallman was a wife beater and the victim decided that she wasn’t taking it any more and told him to leave.
“She ate that bullet because he put that gun in her month,” Ferguson told the jury. “Everything points to murder.”
However, Robert Schaefer, who was counsel with Mark Hardy and Jennifer Lo, said that the commonwealth failed to prove its case.
Calling it a “terrible and tragic accident,” Schaeffer said that it was simply an argument that got out of hand and a simple situation suddenly turned complex.
He argued to the jury that his client didn’t force the gun into the victim’s mouth as there was no damage to her teeth.
Hallman’s fingerprints were also not on the gun.
Schaefer said the prosecution left a lot of questions unanswered and Hallman was charged with the crime even before test results were released.