Death row killer calmly declares he was innocent in his chilling last words

The 13th and almost certainly last execution of Donald Trump’s presidency has taken place – with the condemned man insisting to the last that he was innocent.

Dustin Higgs, 48, who was suffering from coronavirus at the time of his execution, was sentenced to death in 2001 for his part in the 1996 kidnapping and murder of three women on a federal wildlife reserve in the state of Maryland in 1996.

He died by a lethal injection of pentobarbital at 1.23am on Saturday January 16.

His last words were a calm denial of the crime. "I'd like to say I am an innocent man," he said.

Listing the names of the three women who were killed, he added: ”I did not order the murders.”

Tanji Jackson, Tamika Black and Mishann Chinn were shot dead by Willis Haynes, who was sentenced to life plus 45 years. At the time of the killings, Higgs was in a nearby car.

Because the women died on the Patuxent Research Refuge, which is owned by the US government, the men were prosecuted under federal rather than state law.

Prosecutors claimed at his trial that Higgs handed Haynes a gun and told him to shoot the three women, something Higgs denied to his last breath.

His attorney, Shawn Nolan, said Higgs had spent decades on death row helping other inmates while “working tirelessly to fight his unjust convictions.”

“The government completed its unprecedented slaughter of 13 human beings tonight by killing Dustin Higgs, a black man who never killed anyone, on Martin Luther King’s birthday,” he added

“There was no reason to kill him," said Nolan, "particularly during the pandemic and when he, himself, was sick with Covid that he contracted because of these irresponsible, super-spreader executions.”

Higgs is the 13th federal inmate to be executed under Donald Trump’s presidency – more executions than in the previous 50 years put together.

A last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution failed. One of the judges, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, disagreed with the majority verdict.

Justice Sotomayor wrote: "After seventeen years without a single federal execution, the Government has executed twelve people since July. Today, Dustin Higgs will become the thirteenth.

”To put that in historical context, the Federal Government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades."

Some 50 federal prisoners remain on death row. Incoming president Joe Biden has vowed to stop the executions.

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