This photo of Shawn Nolan, Chief of Defense for the Capital Habeas Unit for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, shows Dustin Higgs at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Ind Higgs, the last federal inmate before the retirement of President Donald Trump was executed, sentenced to death in 1996 for the murder of three women in a Maryland wildlife sanctuary.Higgs is due to be executed on Friday, January 15, 2021, in federal prison in Terre Haute ((Federal Bureau of Prisons for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania via AP)) AP

The last federal inmate to be executed prior to President Donald Trump’s departure was sentenced to death for the murder of three women in a Maryland wildlife sanctuary This crime resulted in a life sentence for the man who fired the fatal shots

Dustin Higgs, 48, due to be executed Friday in Terre Haute, Indiana federal prison, says no one claimed he pulled the trigger His lawyers have argued it was “arbitrary and unjust” to execute Higgs, while Willis Haynes, the man who fatally shot the women in 1996, was spared a death sentence

The federal judge who led the Higgs trial two decades ago says he deserves “little sympathy”

“He received a fair trial and was sentenced to death by a unanimous jury for a despicable crime,” US. District Judge Peter Messitte wrote in a Dec 29 decision

Defense attorneys won temporary executions this week for Higgs and another inmate, Corey Johnson, after arguing that their recent COVID-19 infections increased the risk of unnecessary suffering during the fatal injections, but higher courts have those rulings overridden and executions promoted, and Johnson was executed Thursday night

Shawn Nolan, one of Higgs’ attorneys, sees a clear political agenda in the unprecedented string of federal executions at the end of Trump’s presidency.Higgs is due to be executed five days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, a Biden spokesman said, the Democrat is against the death penalty and will work to end its use

“Amid the pandemic and everything that’s going on in the country right now, it just seems insane to push these executions,” Nolan said recently, “And especially for Dustin who shot no one, he didn’t kill anyone”

Higgs’ Dec. 19 pardon says he was a model prisoner and committed father to a son who was born shortly after his arrest.Higgs had a traumatic childhood and lost his mother to cancer at the age of 10, the petition states

“Mr. Higgs’ difficult upbringing was not properly presented to the jury in the process, ”wrote his lawyers

In October 2000, a Maryland federal jury convicted Higgs of the first degree murder and abduction in the murders of Tamika Black, 19; Mischann Chinn 23; and Tanji Jackson, 21 His death sentence was the first in modern Maryland’s federal system that abolished the death penalty in 2013

Higgs was 23 years old on the evening of Jan 26, 1996 when he, Haynes, and a third man, Victor Gloria, picked up the three women in Washington, D.C.and drove her to Higgs’ apartment in Laurel, Maryland to drink alcohol and listen to music. Before dawn the next morning, an argument between Higgs and Jackson caused her to grab a knife in the kitchen before Haynes persuaded her to do it to drop

Gloria said Jackson made threats when she left the apartment with the other women and appeared to be writing down the license plate of Higgs ‘van, which annoyed him.The three men chased the women in Higgs’ van after Haynes persuaded them to go into that Vehicle to climb

Instead of taking her home, Higgs drove her to a remote location in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, a state in Laurel

“When one of the women knew something was wrong at the time, she asked if they had to” go from here “and Higgs replied,” something like that, “” said an appeals court that upheld Higgs’ death sentence / p>

Higgs handed his pistol to Haynes, who shot all three women in front of the van before the men left, Gloria said from

“Gloria turned around and asked Higgs what he was doing, but saw Higgs holding the steering wheel and watching the shootings from the rearview mirror,” read a decision by a three-person panel from the 4th U from 2013S Court of Appeal

Investigators found Jackson’s daily planner at the scene of the murders. It included Higgs’ nickname “Bones”, his phone number, address number, and the tag number for his van

The jurors who sentenced Haynes failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether or not to impose a death sentence.Another jury sentenced Higgs and returned a death sentence after a separate trial. Gloria pleaded guilty to the murders and was aged seven Sentenced to prison

Higgs has argued that his death sentence must be overturned because the jury did not consider it a “mitigating factor” that Haynes was convicted of identical charges but was sentenced to life imprisonment, but the Court of Appeals concluded that reasonable jurors find could that Higgs played the dominant role in the murders, although Haynes was undeniably the trigger

In their pardon, Higgs attorneys said that Gloria received a “substantial deal” in exchange for his collaboration

“Additionally,” they wrote, “important questions remain as to whether Mr. Gloria received the added, undisclosed benefit that an independent state murder investigation was closed against him at the urging of federal officials to protect his credibility as a star witness.” federal death sentence should not rest on such a weak foundation ”

Chinn worked with the children’s choir in a church, Jackson worked in a high school office, and Black was a teaching assistant at the National Presbyterian School in Washington, according to the Washington Post

On the day in 2001 when Judge Higgs officially sentenced to death, Black’s mother, Joyce Gaston, said it brought her little comfort, the Post reported

“It’s never going to be right in my head,” Gaston said “That was my daughter I don’t know how to deal with it”

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Dustin Higgs

World News – USA – Dustin Higgs is set to become the last federal inmate to be executed before Trump leaves office