Sentencing hearing for murder suspect


TROY – Judge Stacy M. Wall, of the Miami County Common Pleas Court, heard testimonies regarding a Troy man who is accused of murdering his roommate in April 2022 during a sentencing hearing on Monday, Dec. 5.

Sean Christopher Higgins, 26, of Troy, was charged with aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse, two counts of tampering with evidence, grand theft of a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property. Higgins entered a guilty plea in October 2022 following two competency hearings which found him fit to stand trial.

Higgins faces life imprisonment with no parole or life imprisonment with parole after 25, 30, or 35 years. Wall had set a sentencing hearing to hear additional testimony and evidence presented.

Anthony Kendell, Miami County prosecuting attorney, called various Troy police officers and Miami County Deputy Coroner that was involved in the case at the time, Sean Kwiatkowski. Officers discussed how 25-year-old Easton Ho, the victim, had been reported missing by his girlfriend. According to the officers, the girlfriend and Ho’s mother expressed concerns over foul play due to Ho’s glasses still remaining at the residence, which were necessary for Ho to see.

Kendell displayed a photograph depicting a map with the locations that Ho’s phone had traveled the night he went missing. The map showed over 160 miles were traveled including stops in Fort Loramie; Randolph County, Indiana; Preble County; and Kettering.

Other evidence included photographs of blood splatter located in the garage of the apartment Ho and Higgins shared. Captain Jeff Kunkleman noted the garage had “an almost overwhelming smell of bleach.” Empty bleach containers were also reportedly found in the recycling bin at the residence.

Ho’s mother reportedly had access to Ho’s credit card account which showed transactions made in Kettering at two Speedways. Another detective with the Troy Police Department said the photos depicted Higgins with a backpack.

Kunkleman then discussed the interview with Higgins which ultimately led to the discovery of Ho’s body in a stream in Randolph County, Indiana. Kendell played a portion of the interview during the hearing. During the interview, Higgins informed the officer the backpack was one he found which contained a hammer, screwdriver, a knife, keys, credit cards belonging to the victim, and the victim’s amputated thumb which he reportedly took back to his residence.

Kunkleman informed the court Higgins informed him of the events of that night which include how he used a hammer to hit the victim on the head in their living room. Then, he transported the body to the car along with the mattress that Ho had been sleeping on. Ho had apparently awoken, which resulted in a struggle where Higgins stabbed Ho and used the car to “back over” him. Higgins used the victim’s thumb to gain access to his phone to send messages to Ho’s family and girlfriend and to Higgins.

Officers also discussed Higgin’s internet searches from the day prior to the incident and then over the past year, which according to Kendell, suggests premeditation as he searched about bodies floating, how hard the human skull is, and what creatures rend flesh from bone, among other related searches.

Kwiatkowski discussed the extent of the victim’s injuries. According to Kwiatkowski, Ho sustained 60 total wounds including six to the neck, 10 to the chest, and 15 to the back, which resulted in wounds to the trachea, sternum, heart and both lungs.

In the interview between Higgins and an officer, Higgins claims he “suffered a lot of abuse from Easton over the years,” which included physical, mental and sexual abuse.

The victim’s mother, two sisters, and girlfriend provided statements providing the impact the incident has had on them and their family. They spoke of their grief, the loss of their son, brother, and boyfriend, and Easton Ho’s personality. Each person who spoke asked the judge to give Higgins life without parole.

Following this, the defendant’s counsel called Higgins’ paternal grandmother, his mother, his father, his aunt, and older brother to provide background information on Higgins’ childhood and personality. Each person spoke about how the incident was “out-of-character” and “surprising” for Higgins to be violent.

Higgins spoke next and addressed Ho’s family and friends in the audience expressing “hope for healing.” He informed the judge “I will try my best to become a model citizen.”

Higgins’ counsel and Kendell provided statements. Higgins’ counsel stated he “cannot figure out the motivation for (the murder).” He discussed how Higgins aided the police department’s investigation and had wanted to plead guilty from the start.

Kendell expressed the brutality and sadistic nature of the crime and the premeditation involved. Kendell stated, “I have been a part of many trials, including murder trials, and with that experience you get a feel for things. We are in the presence of pure evil.”

Wall will sentence Higgins on Monday, Dec. 12, to either life in prison without parole or life with parole after 25 or more years.

No posts to display