Testimony ends in Bouwmans murder trial

Dora Baker testifies in her son Javonte Higgins's murder trial. (March 6, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Testimony in the trial of the man accused of murdering a Kentwood couple in their home wrapped up Thursday after only three days.

Javonte Higgins allegedly shot and killed David Bouwman, 81, and his 80-year-old wife Vivian in their home on Jan. 5, 2013. He was arrested nearly two weeks later near Chicago. His trial began Monday with jury selection and testimony began Tuesday.

Inside woodtv.com: Photos of Higgins’ trial

Thursday, Higgins’s mother took the stand in his murder trial. Dora Baker described her son as typically good-natured.

“Javonte has always much of the laughter and fun and joy into our world,” she said.

She said he struggled after he was injured in a crash in December 2012 — a crash that happened after he allegedly led police on a brief chase in a stolen vehicle.

“He was definitely not in the best of spirits just after his injuries,” Baker testified. “Progressively from the time he was released, I think that that injury was, I mean, it was significant. Not just the physical part of it, but emotionally it was a pretty big blow for him, as well.”

Higgins signed himself out of the hospital before he could be arrested. The Bouwmans were murdered a few weeks later.

Baker said she last saw her son the day before the murders. She said they were in the car when they had a disagreement, and he got out of the car and took off.

As testimony continued, defense attorney Valerie Foster said one witness prejudiced the jury beyond repair by mentioning twice that Higgins had been to prison. She called for a mistrial.

“I think in a murder case, especially with the type of press this case has had, I think this is not a situation that can be cured by this court. I believed that my client has  now been prejudiced,” Foster said.

But the judge decided not to declare a mistrial.

Testimony continued, and the medical examiner confirmed that Bouwmans died from gunshot wounds.

The witness called  by the defense was the lead investigator in the murder chase, who Foster pressed on the two different footprint patterns found in the snow after the murders. She also asked about how other suspects were eliminated and clearly worked to raise the possibility that someone else was the killer.

Closing arguments are slated for Friday afternoon, after which the case will go to the jury.

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