- Hannah Ho, reporter
The Last Men to be Executed Under Trump's Presidency
The federal government executed three times as many people in the last six months than in the last six decades. Dustin Higgs, 48, was the 13th and final inmate to be executed under Trump’s presidency.
Higgs was convicted and sentenced to death in 2001. In 1996, Higgs was arrested for being part of the kidnapping and murder of three women: Tamika Black, Mishann Chinn and Tanji Jackson.
According to BBC News, the women had been on a date with Higgs and two other men at an apartment when an argument broke out among the group.
Higgs and Willis Haynes, his accomplice, offered to drive them home. Instead of driving the three women home, they were taken to a wildlife refuge in Maryland. Prosecutors said Haynes was given a gun by Higgs to kill the three women.
Higgs was executed by lethal injection on Jan. 15 of 2021. “I’d like to say I am an innocent man,” Higgs said in his final words, mentioning the names of the three women. “I did not order the murders.” At the time that Higgs was executed, he was sick with COVID-19.
After Higgs’ execution his attorney, Shawn Nolan, said that Higgs has spent decades helping other inmates to fight for what they feel are unjust convictions.
“The government completed its unprecedented slaughter of 13 human beings tonight by killing Dustin Higgs, a Black man who never killed anyone. There was no reason to kill him, particularly during the pandemic and when he, himself, was sick with Covid that he contracted because of these irresponsible, super-spreader executions,” said Nolan.
Brandon Bernard, 40, was also an inmate who was executed in Dec. 2020 under Trump's presidency.
Bernard was 18 years old at the time he was convicted for his involvement in the murder of Todd and Stacie Bagley in June 1999.
According to CNN news, Bernard was one of the five teenagers who were accused of robbing and forcing the couple into the boot of their car. Bernard's accomplice, 19-year-old Christopher Vialva, shot the couple in the trunk of their car before Bernard set the car on fire.
Bernard spent decades in prison with no write ups and helped at risk youth. His planned execution has gathered attention from many celebrities and politicians who want the execution to be stopped.
Kim Kardashian called for Trump to grant a commutation for Bernard. Kardashian sent out numerous tweets stating why Bernard should not be executed.
Bernard’s last words were to the victim’s family, speaking calmly for more than three minutes.
“I'm sorry,” said Bernard. “That's the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.”