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U.S. to hold out thirteenth and last execution beneath Trump administration By Reuters

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By Jonathan Allen

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (Reuters) – The U.S. authorities intends to hold out the thirteenth and last execution beneath President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday night, simply 5 days earlier than President-elect Joe Biden takes workplace with a promise to attempt to finish the loss of life penalty.

Dustin Higgs, 48, was convicted and sentenced to loss of life in 2001 for overseeing the kidnapping and homicide of three girls on a federal wildlife reserve in Maryland in 1996: Tanji Jackson, Tamika Black and Mishann Chinn.

If it may possibly surmount the ultimate remaining authorized challenges, the U.S. Division of Justice plans to execute him at 6 p.m. with deadly injections of pentobarbital, a strong barbiturate, at its loss of life chamber in its jail in Terre Haute, Indiana.

It could be the thirteenth execution by the U.S. authorities in a rare spree begun final summer time by Trump, a Republican and avowed exponent of capital punishment, after a 17-year hiatus. Previous to Trump, the federal authorities had executed solely three individuals since 1963.

After a failed triple date with the three girls, Higgs and his confederate, Willis Haynes, supplied to drive them dwelling however as an alternative took them to the Patuxent Analysis Refuge. Prosecutors mentioned Higgs gave Haynes a gun and informed him to shoot the three girls. Haynes, who confessed to being the shooter, was sentenced to life in jail, whereas Higgs was sentenced to loss of life in a separate trial, a disparity that his attorneys say is grounds for clemency.

The Justice Division has requested the U.S. Supreme Court docket to overturn an order by a decrease court docket delaying the execution whereas a authorized query is resolved: federal regulation requires that an execution be carried out within the method of the state during which the condemned was sentenced, however Maryland has since abolished the loss of life penalty.

The Justice Division unsuccessfully sought a brand new sentencing order from a federal decide in Maryland to permit them to execute Higgs following the procedures utilized in Indiana, a state that also permits deadly injections and that’s dwelling to the division’s execution chamber.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals has since scheduled a listening to on the matter for Jan. 27, almost two weeks after Higgs’ scheduled execution, which the Justice Division says has left it hamstrung except the Supreme Court docket overturns the delay.

Higgs’ attorneys additionally sought a keep of execution from the seventh U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals to permit him to air his declare that the federal government suppressed proof at his trial, however the appeals court docket dominated on Friday that there have been inadequate grounds for delay. His attorneys might problem that ruling within the Supreme Court docket within the last hours earlier than his scheduled execution time.

Higgs and one other loss of life row inmate, Corey Johnson, had been identified with COVID-19 in December, however on Wednesday the Supreme Court docket rejected an order by a federal decide in Washington delaying their executions for a number of weeks to permit their lungs to heal. The Justice Division executed Johnson on Thursday night time.

The Supreme Court docket’s conservative majority has up to now dismissed any orders by decrease courts delaying federal executions since they had been resumed final 12 months.

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