NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - A former Memphis-area high school German and history teacher was sentenced to 21 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder in the beating of his wife, a prosecutor said on Tuesday.
Michael Halliburton, 55, was convicted in May of attacking his wife with a knife-sharpening instrument in their suburban Memphis home, according to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich. He also was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and one count of domestic violence.
He was sentenced on Monday by Criminal Court Judge Bobby Carter.
Halliburton taught at Collierville High School. His wife, Virginia Halliburton, who also is a teacher, lost part of a finger and suffered head trauma in addition to other injuries.
Halliburton had originally been sentenced in June to a 20-year term by Criminal Court Judge Carolyn Blackett.
Immediately after imposing sentence, Blackett agreed to a defense motion to grant a new trial. She then recused herself from the case, citing questions about her own impartiality.
Questioning her recusal, since the verdict and sentence already had been imposed, the district attorney general’s office opposed the new trial.
The ruling for a new trial was overturned on appeal, and the case was transferred to Carter, who affirmed the conviction.
The district attorney general’s office is now questioning the judge’s impartiality in general and has asked that she be recused from more than 200 other cases.
Blackett declined to comment and referred all inquiries to her attorney, according to a representative of her office. Her attorney was not immediately available for comment.
Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Matthew Lewis