Key Defense Motions Denied; Jury Selection Proceeds in Higgs Trial

A Reno judge says a jury will determine the validity of expert testimony in the murder trial of Chaz Higgs, accused of killing his wife, former Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine.

Washoe District Judge Steven Kosach ruled on several defense motions this morning before jury selection began in the trial of Higgs, who is accused of killing the 50-year-old Augustine with a lethal injection of a paralyzing drug.

Kosach also denied a defense motion to suppress statements Higgs, a critical care nurse, reportedly made to co-workers at a northern Nevada hospital where he worked about his marriage to Augustine.

But the judge reserved ruling on whether statements and e-mails
described as "flirtatious" from Higgs and made after Augustine died will be allowed.

Higgs called an ambulance on July 8th last year, saying he believed she had suffered a heart attack when he found her unconscious at their Reno home. She died three days later.

After a co-worker contacted police about statements Higgs had made concerning his marriage to Augustine, blood, urine and tissue samples were sent to the FBI laboratory, where tests showed the presence of a paralyzing drug.

He pleaded not guilty and has been free on 250,000 dollars bail since March.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)