The Trump administration executed Dustin Higgs, 48, early Saturday morning, shortly after the Supreme Court lifted a stay from a lower court.
The government killed Higgs with a lethal injection of pentobarbital, over objections by his lawyers that lung damage from his recent bout of COVID-19 could make the execution extraordinarily painful. They had asked that the execution be delayed until his lungs recovered.
Higgs was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. EST at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He was the 13th person executed under President Donald Trump’s unprecedented execution spree, and the third to die during Trump’s final week in office. Lisa Montgomery, who was the only woman on federal death row, was killed on Wednesday morning, and Corey Johnson, who had an intellectual disability and was also recovering from COVID-19, was put to death on Thursday. The final two executions took place after Trump was impeached, for the second time, for inciting violent rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol.
One-third of the justices on the Supreme Court — which has repeatedly overturned decisions by lower courts to halt executions — were appointed by Trump. The decision to allow Higgs’s execution to proceed came down to a 6-3 split, with the liberal justices opposing the move.
Higgs, who is Black, was executed just four days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he will work to end the death penalty.
Until the very end of his life, Higgs maintained his innocence.
“Dustin was a fine man, a terrific father, brother, and nephew,” his lawyer Shawn Nolan said in a statement. “Dustin spent decades on death row in solitary confinement helping others around him, while working tirelessly to fight his unjust convictions. In spite of those awful circumstances, he remained true to his family, doing all he could to help raise his amazing children, who have grown up to be wonderful people. This is a true testament to...