In a last attempt to overturn his conviction, federal death row prisoner Dustin Higgs has petitioned the US President for clemency.
Prisoner on death row petitions Trump for clemency: He is due to be put to death next month after the Trump administration have ordered the deaths of many prisoners before they leave office in January. In the petition Higgs points out that he did not actually commit any murders and the man who was found guilty of the murders of 3 women in January 1996 was Willis Haynes. Haynes was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for the murders after being tried separately.
Although the state admits that Higgs did not actually pull the trigger he was given the death sentence after theory said that he had ordered Haynes to kill the women. His lawyer’s argument was that the “dubious” witness who gave the main evidence against him was unreliable and had been offered a “substantial deal” to implicate him. The lawyers wrote in the clemency appeal “A federal death verdict should not rest on such a flimsy basis,” and arguing that Higgs should not have received the death penalty when the man who pulled the trigger only got life imprisonment.
Should all executions take place in the final days of the Trump presidency three prisoners will die over four days, with Higgs date set for 15th January 2021.
The only woman on death row, Lisa Montgomery, will die on 12th January with Corey Johnson just 2 days later. THe rush to kill inmates has sparked a call from Democrats in Congress to ask Joe Biden to abolish the federal death penalty when he comes to office on 20th January, which will be 5 days too late for Higgs.
The clemency petition for Higgs says “Not only will Mr Higgs’s remaining time be marred by illness, but he will be severely restricted from visiting with his attorneys and family members without risk of making them seriously ill,” after it was discovered he had contracted coronavirus. Higgs was convicted in the murders of three women, Tanji Jackson, Tamika Black and Mishann Chinn. He was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and kidnapping.
The State admits by their own volition that Haynes was the one who used the murder weapon to shoot the three women in a wildlife refuge where they were taken in a van.
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