Whiting Man Gets 180 Years For Killing Woman, 2 Teens In '98

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — A judge sentenced a Lake County man to 180 years in prison Friday for killing a woman and two teenage boys found bludgeoned to death in 1998 in a house in northwest Indiana.

James H. Higgason III, 52, of Whiting, was sentenced to three terms of 60 years each, to be served consecutively.

He was found guilty May 27 of murder and murder during the commission of a robbery. He has said he will appeal.

Prosecutors alleged Higgason and David Copley, 47, beat Elva Tamez, 36, Jerod Hodge, 18, of Chicago; and Timothy Ross, 16, of Calumet City, Illinois, to death on Jan. 18, 1998, at the woman's Hammond home with pieces of wood or metal pipes, court records stated. They were trying to get drugs and cash, prosecutors said.

The victims had their skulls bashed in a drug-fueled “frenzy,” Deputy Lake County Prosecuting Attorney Jovanni Miramontes has said.

Defense lawyers Mark Gruenhagen and Matthew Fech said the evidence against Higgason was thin and Copley wasn’t credible because he reached a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony.

Copley pleaded guilty to Hodge’s murder last year and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors dropped two other murder charges.