Higgins found guilty of Bouwman murders

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Javonte Higgins will spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of the murders of David and Vivian Bouwman.

The verdict was handed down just before 12 p.m. in Kent County Circuit Court, one week after Higgins’ trial started. Higgins showed little emotion as the verdict was read, finding him guilty of two counts of felony homicide, one count of first-degree home invasion and one count of felony firearm.

About 15 minutes before reaching a verdict, jurors inquired with the judge about Higgins’ culpability if he did not pull the trigger in the shootings that killed the Bouwmans at their Kentwood home in January 2013.

Inside woodtv.com: Photos of Higgins’ trial

Outside the courtroom after the verdict came down, Tom Kelly, the Bouwmans’ son-in-law, thanked the prosecution, the detectives who worked on the case and the Kent County Victim Witness program before saying that his family was pleased with the verdict.

“Obviously, we’re very happy today with the outcome of the trial and the verdicts that were given,” he said. “Javonte Higgins is the lowest form of humanity that we can have here on God’s green earth. And obviously, he has a total disregard for life and for the property others and shows no remorse for what he’s done to our family.”

Kelly continued that his family could find “a little happiness” that justice had been served in memory of David Bouwman, 81, and 80-year-old Vivian Bouwman.

“Finally we can get on with our lives and have some healing and closure in this matter,” he said. “Justice was done today in their honor, and we as a family are very happy with the outcome.”

When asked what the Bouwmans would have felt towards Higgins if they were still alive, Kelly said he believed they would have forgiven him.

“That’s the way they were, they were loving, kind people,” he said. “And I’m sure that they’d have forgiveness in their heart.”

Following the conviction, Higgins’ defense attorney, Valarie Foster, said they would appeal.

“There’s definitely an error that needs to be addressed and I think it will be,” Foster said.

During the trial, Foster argued that while Higgins was guilty of stealing the Bouwmans’ car – which he later set on fire – investigators never found Higgins’ DNA inside the Bouwmans’ home.

But police say they are confident Higgins is the murderer.

“We got the right guy,” Det. Stephanie Morningstar, the lead investigator on the case, said. “No doubt in my mind.”

Higgins’ family declined to comment on the verdict.

Higgins’ sentencing is scheduled for April 3. The murder convictions mean he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

It’s not yet clear what will happen in regards to home invasion and auto theft charges Higgins faces out of Wyoming.

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