Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Almost Perfect Murder

By Gary King

The July 2006 murder of Kathy Augustine made headlines. She was a high profile, dominating political figure in Reno, Nevada, who made history by being the first woman elected state controller. She had her photo taken with both President George Bush and his son President George W. Bush, survived an impeachment process, and in 2004 was a finalist for the office of Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. She had a history of using less than above board political tactics. A Republican Party colleague stated publicly he considered her an embarrassment to the party. Nevertheless, she could win elections and had an impressive resume.

Her husband, whom she was divorcing, died in 2003, and three weeks later Kathy married a former bodybuilder, Chaz Higgs. After being married for three years, they discussed divorce, and Chaz flirted with another woman. Then Kathy died of an apparent heart attack. Based on a tip from the woman Chaz had been flirting with, the police looked for poisoning by succinylcholine. Based mainly on the FBI finding traces of that chemical in her urine, Chaz Higgs was charged with the murder of Kathy Augustine.

King's account of the investigation and the trial of Chaz Higgs for Augustine's murder is detailed and interesting, though the facts related in the beginning of the book flow less smoothly than his writing about the trial. He repeats facts, particularly in describing succinylcholine effects, which interferes with the pacing of the story at times. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating read.

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