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Dustin Higgs heads to the death chamber in the 13th and final federal execution of Trump’s term

BREAKING NEWS: Murderer Dustin Higgs heads to the chamber in the 13th and final federal execution of Trump’s term – cementing him as the most prolific modern president in carrying out death sentences

Dustin John Higgs, 48, is due to be executed by lethal injection on Friday

The federal execution of convicted murderer Dustin Higgs is underway, marking the final death sentence to be carried out by the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump.

Witnesses at the federal penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana were transported to the area where executions take place shortly before midnight on Friday.  

Higgs conspired with another man to kidnap and murder three young women in Washington DC in one night in January 1996. 

His lawyers have argued it is ‘arbitrary and inequitable’ to execute Higgs while Willis Haynes, the man who pulled the trigger in the murders, was spared a death sentence.

Higgs, 48, had been due to receive a lethal injection of pentobarbital at 6pm on Friday, but last-minute legal challenges delayed the execution by several hours. 

It marked the third federal execution at Terre Haute in four days, and the 13th during Trump’s term, making him the most prolific president in carrying out death sentences since Grover Cleveland in the 1800s. 

Higgs is seen in 2015 at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Higgs is the last federal inmate facing execution before President Donald Trump leaves office

Higgs is seen in 2015 at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Higgs is the last federal inmate facing execution before President Donald Trump leaves office

Trump resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus, although they had still been carried out at the state level. 

President-elect Joe Biden is an opponent of the death penalty and is expected to suspend federal executions when he takes office next week. 

The federal judge who presided over Higgs’ trial two decades ago says he ‘merits little compassion.’

‘He received a fair trial and was convicted and sentenced to death by a unanimous jury for a despicable crime,’ U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte wrote in a December 29 ruling.

Defense attorneys won temporary stays of execution this week for Higgs and another inmate, Corey Johnson, after arguing that their recent COVID-19 infections put them at greater risk of unnecessary suffering during the lethal injections. 

But higher courts overruled those decisions, allowing the executions to go forward, and Johnson was executed Thursday night. 

A file photo shows the interior of the execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. Higgs will be strapped to the gurney and injected with pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate

A file photo shows the interior of the execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. Higgs will be strapped to the gurney and injected with pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate

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, with Higgs heading to the death chamber just five days before Biden’s inauguration. 

‘In the midst of the pandemic and everything that´s going on right now in the country, it seems just insane to move forward with these executions,’ Nolan said recently. ‘And particularly for Dustin, who didn’t shoot anybody. He didn’t kill anybody.’

Higgs’ Dec. 19 petition for clemency says he has been a model prisoner and dedicated father to a son born shortly after his arrest. Higgs had a traumatic childhood and lost his mother to cancer when he was 10, the petition says.

‘Mr. Higgs´s difficult upbringing was not meaningfully presented to the jury at trial,’ his attorneys wrote. 

Developing story, more to follow. 

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