Dustin John Higgs was executed early Saturday morning, making him the 13th federal death row inmate to be executed since the Justice Department resumed federal executions in July 2019.
According to CNN, Higgs had been convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women in 1996 and had always maintained his innocence.
Moments before his death, Higgs remained calm and defiant as he spoke his last words, “I’d like to say I am an innocent man,” he said, before mentioning the three women Tamika Black, 19; Tanji Jackson, 21; and Mishann Chinn, 23-by name and reaffirming, “I did not order the murders,” a report said.
His execution went forward as scheduled, even after his attorney Shawn Nolan‘s appeal to delay the proceeding because of Higgs COVID-19 diagnosis.
Higgs’ lawyers also argued he was unfairly sentenced since the actual gunman in the crimes is already serving a life sentence.
Higg’s execution was originally scheduled to take place on the 92nd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, prompting King’s oldest son Martin Luther King III, to plead for an end to executions in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post on Thursday.
King eloquently invoked his father’s words from 1957, when he was asked if God approves of the death penalty. “I do not think that God approves the death penalty for any crime … capital punishment is against the better judgment of modern criminology and, above all, against the highest expression of love in the nature of God,” Rev. Dr. King said.
Higgs and two friends drove to Washington, DC, to pick up the three women to bring them back to his apartment in Laurel, Maryland, in January of 1996.
While at his apartment, one of the women rebuffed his advances, and when they were ready to leave, instead of being driven back to D.C., Higgs allegedly ordered his cronies to take the women to a secluded area, where he gave a gun to one of the men and ordered him to “better make sure they’re dead.”
That man then shot Black and Jackson in the chest and back and shot Chinn in the back of the head, killing all three women.