Nampa murder trial begins with alleged accomplice testifying

Nampa murder trial begins with alleged accomplice testifying

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on July 10, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 10:53 PM

CALDWELL -- The man accused of pulling the trigger and killing 27-year-old James Groat in a field near Lake Lowell last summer is now on trial.
   
Gregory Higgins is accused in a plot with two other men that involved forcing Groat to dig his own grave. One of the other men, Christopher Duran, made a deal with prosecutors in exchange to testify on Wednesday.

In court, Duran said he was in the wrong for not stopping Groat's murder, but says it was Higgins who actually killed.

Last August, prosecutors say Higgins plotted to kill Groat and made a plan, getting Groat and his two roommates to head out near Lake Lowell.
   
They say Higgins loaded a shovel into the car and lured Groat out into the country by asking him to come along to help on a drug deal. Investigators believe Higgins thought Groat was a police informant.

"The defendant walked over near the abandoned building, started looking around. After a minute or two, he pulled out a gun, he pointed it at James, and he shouted at him: 'Who do you work for?'" Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Casey Hemmer said during opening statements.

Then, Hemmer says Groat was given a shovel.

"The defendant then told James to start digging, and he did. And while James was digging, he asked the defendant, 'Can I have an explanation as to why this is happening?' In response, the defendant pulled the trigger on the gun," Hemmer said.
   
But Higgins' attorneys ask jurors to question how truthful the other two men involved are being today and say evidence offers plenty of opportunities to show who was and was not there. That evidence includes the car they all took into rural Canyon County that night.

"This again, like the crime scene now, is just an opportunity. And it's an opportunity to try and get physical evidence that would tell us what happened, who's in the car, and ultimately answer the question of whether or not Greg Higgins was there. Was Greg Higgins in the car?" Defense attorney Chuck Peterson said.
   
Higgins' attorneys say a criminalist, in fact, will testify to a lack of physical evidence against his client.

"If we ask him whether or not his analysis of blood, hair, fiber, fluids, gunshot residue, any of that, would tie in Mr. Higgins, he would tell you no," Peterson said.

The trial will resume Thursday with Duran taking the stand against Higgins again. Duran is scheduled for his murder trial in Groat's death later this month.

The third man investigators say was involved, Cruz Flores, is also a witness in this case; however, Flores' case is sealed right now, so it's unclear if he's still being prosecuted or what for.
 

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