January 16, 2021 8:27 AM | With information from DPA
15 minutes. Dustin John Higgs, who died in the early hours of the morning of this Saturday, became the thirteenth prisoner and the last to die by federal execution during the term of Donald Trump, since the Department of Justice restarted this modality in July 2019.
Higgs was convicted of kidnapping and ordering the murders of 3 women in 1996. However, he maintained his innocence until the day of his death. “I would like to say that I am an innocent man. I did not order the murders“, according to his latest statements collected by the chain CNN.
The perpetrator of the shots was a companion of the inmate, Willis Haynes, sentenced to life in prison.
The Higgs victims were Tamika Black, 19 years old; Tanji Jackson, 21; and Mishann Chinn, 23.
The Supreme Court of the United States (USA) refused to stop the federal execution ordered by the Trump Administration. However, some judges disagreed, such as Sonia Sotomayor, who lamented the “unprecedented urgency” that has surrounded this case. “After waiting almost 2 decades to resume federal executions, the government should have proceeded with some restraint to ensure that it did so legally“, he declared.
After 16 years
Higgs’ execution continued despite an appeal from his attorney, Shawn Nolan, who asked for a postponement because Higgs was suffering from coronavirus. In general terms, It was an unfair sentence given that the person responsible for the shooting, Haynes, was already serving a life sentence.
The US resumed executions at the federal level in July last year on the orders of the country’s attorney general, William Barr, after a moratorium of 16 years. Before Trump took office, only 3 federal executions had taken place in this period.
Barr argued that federal executions are contemplated by Congress and the latter are directed against “those responsible for the murder, and sometimes torture and rape, of the most vulnerable in society, children and the elderly“.
Barr’s words marked the official announcement of the end of an informal moratorium on the death penalty since the 2003 execution of Louis Jones. Despite this, capital punishment has continued to be applied in each of the 29 states in which it is contemplated.