According to court documents Sierra Niehaus and Galazia Niehaus were involved in an argument that ended with the older sister stabbing her younger sister multiple times causing her death
Sierra Niehaus would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to sixteen years in prison
Sierra Niehaus Now
Work or Program Participation Private Industry
Earliest Possible Release Date (1) Dec 08, 2027
Current Status Incarcerated
Admission Date Jan 22, 2018
Current Location (2) Topeka CF-Central
Custody Level MI1 Minimum-1
Sierra Niehaus Case
Attorney Julie Effenbeck said Tuesday at 16-year-old Sierra Niehaus’ sentencing that what her client did to her 13-year-old sister on Aug. 1, 2014, defies explanation.
“We’re no closer to explaining the situation and offering answers to anyone as to why this occurred,” Effenbeck said.
Sierra Niehaus, who was 14 years old when she repeatedly stabbed her sister, Galazia, in their rural Saline County home, made a brief statement of apology in Saline County District Court.
“I miss my sister very much, and I only wish there was a way to bring her back,” she said. “What happened to her never should have happened, and it never should happen to anybody.”
Judge Patrick Thompson sentenced Sierra Niehaus to spend nearly 16 years in prison on the four counts she pleaded no contest to in March.
Describing the fatal stabbing of Galazia Niehaus as “one of the more brutal murders this court has seen,” Thompson imposed the longest sentence he could under state sentencing guidelines for a person with no prior criminal record.
Sierra Niehaus was sentenced to 13 years and nine months for second-degree murder; nine months each for two counts of felony interference with a law enforcement officer, and seven months for felony theft. The judge ordered that she serve the sentences for each crime one after another, for a total of 15 years and 10 months.
The theft charge is for taking her mother and stepfather’s van without permission when she fled the family’s home following the stabbing. The van was abandoned at Jerry Ivey Park, and Niehaus had run to a friend’s house near the park.
One interference charge is for telling law enforcement that three “guys” armed with weapons had forced her out of her house and made her drive the van to Salina following the incident. She later recanted the story, but maintained afterward that she could not remember anything that occurred that night.
The second interference charge is because the state contends she disposed of clothing she had been wearing at the time of the stabbing.
Thompson ordered Sierra Niehaus to pay $6,481 in restitution to the Kansas Crime Victims Fund for the cost of Galazia’s funeral and some costs of preparing for trial; $193 in court costs; a $200 DNA testing fee; and $400 for an assessment at a child advocacy center.
Upon her release from prison, she will be required to register as a violent offender for 15 years.
Effenbeck said the family was asking the judge for “mercy and leniency.” She asked Thompson to impose the sentences to be served all at one time in consideration of her young age and that “this is an unusual situation that no one has yet been able to explain.”
She said that as the mother and stepfather of both the victim and the accused, Jennifer and Dean Niehaus, had lost one daughter and “now they are at the point where they could be losing another for a very significant period of time.”
She read a statement from the Niehauses that said:
“Our daughter Galazia was a beautiful, loving, wonderful little girl. Her light touched everyone she met, and now that light is gone from this world. She will never grow to live her hopes and dreams. We will always miss her and love her more than words can express.
“Even so, we also love our daughter Sierra. We hope and pray for her everyday. We talk with her every Wednesday and see her as much as we can. Our family also supports her with visits, calls, and frequent letters. We will always love and support her and we will always let her know we are there for her.”
Alecia Mendez, a cousin who grew up with Sierra and Galazia, expressed disbelief that Niehaus actually did kill her sister.
“She would have never hurt a fly,” Mendez said. “There’s no way I think she would ever do this.”
She said the nearly two years since Galazia’s death have been a “bumpy ride” for the family.
“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to us,” Mendez said.
But Saline County Attorney Ellen Mitchell told the judge that Sierra Niehaus was originally charged with first-degree murder, and Mitchell believed she had the evidence to prove that case to a jury. However, Mitchell said she entered into plea negotiations after considering the wishes of Niehaus’ parents and because a first-degree conviction would have sent the teen to prison for 50 years.
Mitchell asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence, which she thought would be appropriate for the case. She said it was already reduced from the 50 years it could have been.
“There has been a great deal of evidence presented about what she did at school and who she was in other people’s eyes,” Mitchell said.
However, she said a search of Sierra Niehaus’ cell phone and computer showed that Niehaus was researching subjects like “how to roll a blunt” and other topics that indicated “there was probably a very different person than most people knew her as.”
Mitchell said a friend had identified a YouTube video series about a character referred to as a “gay cholo” that Niehaus enjoyed watching. In an episode Mitchell said Niehaus watched repeatedly called “LMAO GayLo,” a character in a vehicle produces a large knife and gives instructions for “next time you want to shank someone.” Mitchell said on the night she killed her sister with a kitchen knife, Niehaus had drawn fake tattoos on her face.
“Her tattoos that day mirror the tattoos of the young man in the vehicle and the young man in the vehicle acts out how to kill someone by stabbing them and stabbing them until they’re dead, and that’s exactly what happened in this case,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said there were more than 70 cuts and stab wounds on Galazia’s body.
“It was horrendous,” she said. “A stab wound went inside her tongue and out the other side. The tip of the knife was broken off into her sister’s body.”
Thompson said there was no evidence that Niehaus had used drugs or alcohol or had a mental illness. He said he cannot imagine the toll the crime has taken on Niehaus’ parents and extended family.
However, he imposed the aggravated sentence, making it as long as sentencing guidelines allowed.
“Because of the enormity of the crime and the aggressiveness and violence of the homicide, the court must consider that you’re a danger to the community,” Thompson said to Niehaus.