Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Appeal Denied in Winston Murder Case

J.A. Higginbotham

WINSTON COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — A Winston County man

will remain in prison for at least 25 more years.

The State Court of Appeals today rejected 40-year-old James Higginbotham’s post conviction relief claim that his guilty plea to murder — reduced from capital murder as part of a plea agreement — should be thrown out. He argued  he didn’t understand he would not be eligible for release from prison until he was 65 at the earliest. He said he thought he’d be eligible for parole in 10 years.

But in its 16-page ruling, the appeals court said the transcript of the plea hearing made it clear Higginbotham understood the terms and consequences of his plea.

Higginbotham was sentenced to life in prison on May 18, 2009, for his role in the Dec. 9, 2007 murder-for-hire shooting death of L.S. Vowell Jr., in his chicken coop on his farm off Highway 25 in southern Winston County.

Higginbotham was hired by Vowell’s wife, Sandra Ranea Vowell. Vowell and J. C. Higginbotham also are serving life sentences and Vicky Rene Higginbotham is serving 30 years in connection with the crime.