A man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Nevada state Controller Kathy Augustine, waived extradition Monday during a brief court appearance.
Chaz Higgs, 42, was arrested Friday in Hampton, where he had
been staying with relatives. He's accused of injecting Augustine,
50, with a lethal dose of muscle relaxant in July.
Higgs, handcuffed and wearing an orange Hampton City Jail
jumpsuit, said nothing during the extradition hearing. Nevada
authorities have 30 days to pick up Higgs and return him to that
state for trial.
"The best way to defend yourself is to go home and defend and
that's what he's going to do," attorney Mike Maguire, who
represented Higgs at the extradition hearing, told reporters
outside court. Maguire said Higgs, who had been in the area twice
to visit relatives since July, had been keeping Nevada authorities
apprised of his whereabouts and that he was surprised when he was
"I think he's pretty upset," Maguire said. "He didn't know he
was a suspect until they picked him up."
Higgs previously told authorities that Augustine suffered a
heart attack brought on by stress even though she was in good
health. Augustine was campaigning for state treasurer at the time
of her death.
According to a police report, Higgs, who worked as a
critical-care nurse at Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center, told a
co-worker that he was having marital problems and was planning on
ending his relationship.
Commenting on a high-profile murder case, Higgs told the
co-worker in July that if he was going to murder someone, he would
administer succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant that he believed is
undetectable after death, the report states.
Augustine's urine tested positive for succinylcholine,
Reno Police Chief Michael Poehlman credited suspicious doctors
who treated Augustine when she was admitted to the hospital on July
8 for helping resolve the cause of the controller's death.
He said they immediately took both blood and urine samples and
froze them in case they were needed later.
Poehlman said succinylchlorine deteriorates in the body, making
it undetectable in a short time.
"That was good work by the folks at the hospital," he told
reporters on Monday. "The treating physician was somewhat
suspicious and asked that samples be held."