Dustin Higgs federal execution before inauguration postponed

Keydra Manns

A judge delayed the execution of Higgs that was originally set for Friday

President Donald Trump’s legacy will include executing the most people on death row in modern day history.

Three executions were slated this week as ordered by the Trump administration before a judge stopped two of them. Before Trump, there had not been a federal execution since 2003. Dustin John Higgs is the last federal inmate on death row set for execution before Trump leaves office.

Higgs, Cory Johnson, and Lisa Montgomery were all set to be executed this week but Higgs and Johnson contracted the coronavirus. Montgomery was the sole woman on federal death row, per Newsweek before her execution on Tuesday.

Dustin John Higgs thegrio.com
(Credit: savedustinjhiggs.com)

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Higgs, 48, was set for execution at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Friday. But an Obama appointed judge, Tanya Chutkan postponed his execution along with Johnson’s, per The Hill.

“The court is deeply concerned that the government intends to execute two prisoners who are suffering from COVID-19 infection, particularly given that the disease impacts individuals in drastically different ways and can have particularly devastating long-term effects, even for those with mild symptoms,” wrote Chutkan.

She added that going through with the execution would put those witnessing and participating at risk.

“This is irresponsible at best, particularly when a temporary injunction will reduce these risks,” she continued. “The public interest is not served by executing individuals in this manner.”

Their fate could be postponed to March if the judge’s decision is not overruled by a higher court.

Back in 2000, Higgs was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of three young women, Tamika Black, 19, Tanji Jackson, 21, and Mishann Chinn, 23. According to the Department of Justice, in 1996, Higgs provided a gun to a friend and told him “better make sure they’re dead,” in reference to the ladies after one refused his advances. Another man, Willis Haynes, Higgs’ co-defendant, actually pulled the trigger, killing the women.

Higgs’ attorney argues since he was not the killer he should not receive the death penalty especially since the actual shooter, Haynes, received a life sentence and not the death penalty.

“There is no principled basis to execute Dustin Higgs given that the shooter, in this case, is serving a life sentence and the trial prosecutors actively misled the jury in Dustin’s case,” said Higgs’ attorney Shawn Nolan to Newsweek.

Death Chamber at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility
(Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images)

“The government should not carry out yet another super-spreader execution in the heart of this global pandemic. The DOJ should withdraw Dustin’s execution date or President Trump should commute his death sentence.”

Higgs fathered a son not long after he went to jail who says he is a good father considering his status.

“From a child to adulthood, my father was always there for me to confide in, to laugh with, to cry with, and even get upset with,” wrote his son Da’Quan Darby for his father’s clemency application.

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“But he was always there and has been my number one supporter, showed me what love is, and taught me to be a better man. I cannot imagine or think of where I could’ve ended up without the love and encouragement of my father.”

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