Jury convicts Whiting man of killing woman, 2 teens in 1998

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A jury has convicted a Lake County man in the killings of 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, who was found guilty Friday of murder and murder during the commission of a robbery, could face consecutive sentences of 45 to 65 years when he’s sentenced June 24.

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 Prosecuting Attorney Jovanni Miramontes 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.

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