Juror confident about convicting Higgins

Javonte Higgins on the day he was convicted. (March 10, 2014)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Despite a lack of DNA evidence implicating Javonte Higgins, one juror said she and the 11 other people on the jury are sure they convicted the right man of killing a Kentwood couple their home more than a year ago.

Higgins was found guilty Monday of murdering David and Vivian Bouwman. The 81- and 80-year-old were shot and killed in their Kentwood home on Jan. 5, 2013.

David and Vivian Bouwman. (Undated courtesy photo)
(David and Vivian Bouwman. Undated courtesy photo)

Many were long ago convinced that Higgins killed the Bouwmans. The juror, who 24 Hour News 8 is not identifying, said that the case wasn’t so simple for the jurors who held his fate in their hands.

There were three days of testimony in Higgins’ murder trial. Witnesses said Higgins had admitted to the murder and that he behaved unusually before the murders. There was testimony that showed Higgins had asked a friend to help him get rid of the Bouwmans’ car, which he set on fire the day they died. The jury also saw graphic images of the victims’ bodies.

One of the jurors who found Javonte Higgins guilty of murdering David and Vivian Bouwman speaks to 24 Hour News 8's Leon Hendrix. (March 12, 2014)Inside woodtv.com: Photos of Higgins’ murder trial

But in the jury room, much of the discussion revolved around the fact that there was no DNA evidence proving Higgins was in the house.

“You have this person. There’s no DNA. No DNA. It keeps popping up,” the juror told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “And it’s like, OK, if this is our suspect that you guys are trying to put in prison, why is there no evidence of him being in that house?”

Hours into deliberations, jurors came back with a question: Could they convict Higgins even if they weren’t sure that he pulled the trigger and killed David and Vivian Bouwman? Once they were told he could even be convicted if he was an accomplice to the crime, they were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Either way, if there was or wasn’t another person, he’s going to be convicted,” the juror said.

The case, the juror said, was difficult. The couple in their 80s seemed vulnerable. They were likely asleep before Higgins broke into their home in the early hours of Jan. 5, 2013.

“It hurts, I mean, knowing that someone could do such an act like that. And giving someone’s family the joy of seeing someone put away. But then, again, seeing someone getting taken away from their family. I mean, it was bittersweet,” the juror said.

While many scoff at the idea of jury duty, the juror said it was an experience she will never forget and encourages others to take the summons seriously.

“It’s just a big decision that I never though I’d have to make on anyone,” she said. “I just looked at it like as if it was somebody in my family, I would want justice.”

She said she and her fellow jurors had no doubt they convicted the right man.Javonte Higgins 031014

But though there was no apparent remorse from Higgins in the courtroom, the juror said she was never convinced Higgins was an evil person. She said she thinks he needed help and that she wishes he had gotten it before the Bouwmans were killed.

Higgins is scheduled to be sentenced on April 3. The murder convictions mean he will be sentenced to life in prison.

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