YORK – A Henderson man sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 1987 slaying of his adoptive sister, could now be eligible for parole in eight years.
Sydney Thieszen, who was convicted of first degree murder in 1996 for the “execution style” shooting of his 12-year-old sister Sacha, held a mitigation hearing in March with the hopes of being released from prison.
On Friday, Thieszen appeared in York County District Court for his sentencing. Before handing down his sentence, the Honorable Judge James C. Stecker condemned Thieszen of his actions…
Judge Stecker sentenced Thieszen to 70 years to life in prison. Thieszen will get credit for good time served from the original second degree murder charge on September 21, 1987. That means he could be eligible for parole after 35 years served on his first count. September 21, 2017 will mark 30 years he has been in prison. Thieszen was also charged with use of a firearm to commit a felony. The second count is to be served consecutively with a sentence of 40-100 months. Which means between count one and two, Thieszen could be eligible for parole in approximately eight years.
During the sentencing hearing, Sydney’s sister, Sharon Hanke read an emotion filled letter.
Corey O’ Brien, representing the state, mentioned several times in his closing arguments that it would be, “irresponsible to send him out the door,” for Thieszen’s actions. O’Brien mentioned several times that, “many kids from worse situations than Sydney made conscious decisions not to murder, and that what Sydney did was a well thought out plan.”
In his closing arguments, Thieszen’s attorney Jeffery Pickens, made several points about the age of Sydney at the time of the murder. He stated that he didn’t, “fully understand the general deterrence due to an underdeveloped brain as an adolescent (14-years-old).” Pickens made the case that Thieszen has had zero violent outbreaks while incarcerated. In his final remarks, he asked Judge Stecker to consider 40 years on the bottom of his sentencing, stating it would give him adequate time to adjust before re-entry into society.
On Sept. 17, 1987 at his rural Henderson home, Sydney attempted to run away from his family’s home after finding a note that his mother left that stated he would be punished. His 12-year-old foster sister, Sacha, found out and threatened to tell his parents. Sydney then struck Sacha in the back of the head with a wooden dowel rod in an attempt to prevent her from telling. Bleeding from her head, she then ran to an upstairs bathroom where Sydney then followed her and shot her in the head three times with a .22 caliber handgun. He then put her body in the bathtub claiming that he didn’t want to make a mess on the floor and shot her twice more. Thieszen then took the keys to the family van and fled. He was found days later in Salina, Kansas.
Thieszen was convicted of second degree murder in 1988 and was sentenced as an adult to life in prison. A second hearing was held in 1996 which the Nebraska Supreme Court overruled the original sentencing of second degree murder and charged him with first degree murder with a life sentence.
A case referred to frequently by both defense and state was Miller v. Alabama, a case in which the court found it to be a violation of the Eighth Amendment to impose a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for a juvenile. Thieszen is the second youngest “Miller” case in Nebraska, with him being only the age of 14 when he committed the murder.