Dustin Higgs was executed for his role in the killing of three women in 1996
Higgs had been involved in previous shooting and weapon-related prior crimes.
The United States executed Dustin Higgs early Saturday for his role in the 1996 kidnapping and murders of three women. Higgs, 48, is the 13th federal inmate to be executed during President Trump’s office time.
According to appellate records, “On Friday evening, January 26, 1996, Higgs, Willie Mark Haynes, and Victor Gloria drove from Higgs’s apartment at 13801 Briarwood Drive in Laurel, Maryland, to Washington D.C. to pick up Tanji Jackson, Tamika Black, and Mishann Chinn. Higgs knew Jackson, and they had arranged dates for Haynes and Gloria with Black and Chinn.
They were traveling in Higgs’s blue Mazda MPV van. After stopping at a liquor store, the three couples returned to Higgs’s apartment to drink alcohol and listen to music. While there, the men also smoked marijuana.
At some point during the early morning hours of January 27, Higgs and Jackson began to argue. Jackson retrieved a knife from the kitchen, and Haynes, who had been in the bedroom with Black, heard the commotion and came out to break up the fight.
Haynes talked to Jackson and got the knife away from her. However, Jackson was still angry, and the three women left the apartment. According to Gloria, as Jackson was walking out, “[s]he stopped at the door and said something like I am going to get you all f—ed up or robbed” or made “some kind of threat.”
In response, Higgs commented to the other two men that Jackson ‘do know a lot of n—–s.’ As Higgs was watching the women leave, he saw Jackson stop and appear to write down the license plate number of his van. This angered Higgs, who commented to Haynes and Gloria that Jackson was “writing down [his] sh-.” Gloria interpreted Higgs’s comments as concern that Jackson intended to retaliate against Higgs.
At that point, “Higgs said f—- that, and grabbed his coat and said come on.” He also retrieved a silver .38 caliber firearm from the end table drawer and put it in his pocket.
The three men got into Higgs’s van, with Higgs driving, Haynes in the front passenger seat, and Gloria sitting behind Higgs. Higgs drove the van to where the three women were walking on the side of the road and told Haynes to get them in the vehicle.
After Haynes spoke to them, the three women got into the back seat of the vehicle, and Higgs started driving towards Washington, D.C. Neighbors in the area heard and saw the three girls laughing and talking around 3:30 that morning.
According to Gloria, while en route to Washington, D.C., Higgs and Haynes leaned towards each other and engaged in a quiet conversation that Gloria could not hear.
The women were whispering in the back of the van and apparently believed they were being taken home. Higgs, however, drove past the Baltimore-Washington Parkway exit, which would have taken them directly into Washington, D.C., and instead drove the van into the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, a federal property within the jurisdiction of the United States Park Police.
Eventually, Higgs pulled over at a secluded location. One of the girls asked if they were trying to “make [them] walk from [t]here,” and Higgs responded, ‘something like that.’ After the women got out of the van, Higgs pulled out the pistol and handed it to Haynes, who put it behind his back and also exited the van.
Within moments, Gloria heard a gunshot and wiped the mist off the back window in time to see Haynes shoot one of the women in the chest. Gloria turned to ask Higgs what he was doing, but saw Higgs holding the steering wheel and watching the shootings from the rearview mirror. Gloria put his head down, heard more shots, and heard a woman screaming.
After firing a few more shots, Haynes got into the van and closed the door. According to Gloria, either Higgs or Haynes then commented that they had to ‘get rid of the gun,’ and Higgs drove to the Anacostia River where, according to Gloria, either Higgs or Haynes got out and threw the gun into the water.
Higgs then drove back to his apartment, where the three men began to clean up. Among other things, they wiped down the patio doors and ‘everything else, the bathroom, the doorknobs, the stereo,’ and threw away any items the women might have touched, such as liquor bottles, CDs, and rented videotapes.
The men then left the apartment and dropped the trash by a dumpster. Higgs and Haynes dropped Gloria off at a fast-food restaurant, where he was told by Higgs to ‘keep [his] mouth shut.’
At about 4:30 a.m., a motorist found the bodies of the three women strewn about the roadway and contacted the Park Police.
Jackson’s day planner was found at the scene with Higgs’s nickname-‘Bones’-and telephone number recorded in it. On another page was written “13801 ‘MAZDA’ 769GRY’-Higgs’s address number on Briarwood Drive and the tag number for his Mazda van. A .38 caliber wadcutter bullet was also found there.
According to the medical examiner, Jackson and Black had each been shot once in the chest and once in the back. Chinn had been shot once in the back of the head.”
THE EVIDENCE WAS SUFFICIENT TO CONVICT THE DEFENDANT, AND THE JURY AND THE COURT FOLLOWED THE LAW
A review of the case convinces us that the government proved their case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt and that the requirements of the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 were adequately followed.
We object to the death penalty’s imposition in this case because we think the penalty of death is cruel and unusual under all circumstances except where the defendant competently requests the same.