Speed Reads

Capital Punishment

U.S. carries out 13th and final execution under Trump administration

The United States government on Friday night executed Dustin Higgs — the 13th federal death row inmate to be executed since the Justice Department resumed federal capital punishment in July 2019 after a 17-year gap — at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The Supreme Court declined to stay the final execution under the Trump administration, despite an appeal from Higgs' attorney Shawn Nolan, although some justices dissented. Justice Sonia Sotomayor called it an "unprecedented rush," arguing the government "should have proceeded with some measure of restraint to ensure it did so lawfully."

Higgs, along with two other men, was convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women in 1996. He has maintained his innocence of the murder, proclaiming with his final words, per CNN, "I'd like to say I am an innocent man. I did not order the murders."

Nolan argued the execution should have been delayed after Higgs was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, and also that he was unfairly sentenced considering the actual gunman is serving a life sentence.

Former Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) was among those to criticize the execution, claiming President Trump wanted to move swiftly before President-elect Joe Biden, who has opposed the death penalty, takes office. Read more at NPR and CNN. Tim O'Donnell