Augustine Death

A judge rejected a defense request to delay a preliminary hearing for Chaz Higgs, who's charged with murdering his wife - state Controller Kathy Augustine - by injecting her with a paralyzing drug.

Justice of the Peace Barbara Finley sided Tuesday with Washoe County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tom Barb, who argued that
defense lawyer David Houston has had enough time to prepare.

The judge said the Thursday hearing will begin as scheduled because she also did not want to disrupt the schedule of experts flying to Reno to testify.

Houston had asked for an extra 30 days to allow a defense expert
to review the FBI report of Augustine's July 11 death, the Reno
Gazette-Journal reported.

The report found both succinylcholine and succinylmonocholine, a
breakdown product of the drug, in a urine sample taken before Augustine died.

Houston told the judge that he questioned the FBI's findings because the paralyzing drug was not found in any tissue or blood samples. He said he needed more time to prepare to question prosecution experts who plan to testify.

"I do recognize that this is a somewhat unusual basis for murder charges," Finley told him, adding that she wanted to be fair to both sides.

Higgs, a 42-year-old critical care nurse, called paramedics to their northern Nevada home early on July 8, saying he had found Augustine in their bed unconscious and not breathing.

Higgs told police that she was under stress because of her campaign for state treasurer and had a heart attack. The 50-year-old Augustine died three days later.

Augustine had been impeached by the Nevada Assembly, convicted
by the Senate for using state equipment on her 2002 campaign for
state controller and censured, but not removed from office.

Houston has said the prosecution's case hinges on a witness statement that Higgs spoke about succinylcholine as the perfect murder weapon because it was impossible to detect.

But prosecutors said the evidence clearly points to Higgs, and friends said Augustine had been preparing to divorce Higgs.

When Higgs was arrested in Virginia in September, authorities found literature on succinylcholine in his vehicle.

Las Vegas authorities also are investigating the death of Augustine's third husband, Charles Augustine, 63. Higgs was his critical care nurse in 2003 when Charles Augustine died while recovering from a stroke.