RENO, Nev. – The husband of Nevada's late state controller waived extradition Monday to face first-degree murder charges in her death.
Chaz Higgs, 42, was arrested Friday in Hampton, Va. where he had been staying with relatives. He is accused of injecting Kathy Augustine, 50, with a lethal dose of muscle relaxant in July.
Augustine was campaigning for state treasurer at the time of her death. She had been impeached by the Nevada Assembly, convicted by the Senate for using state equipment on her 2002 campaign and censured, but she had not been removed from office.
In Nevada, Clark County District Attorney David Roger said Monday that investigators plan to exhume the body of Kathy Augustine's first husband, 63-year-old Charles Augustine, who died three years ago, to look for traces of the same drug that authorities say killed her.
Higgs, a critical care nurse, had been caring for Charles Augustine. Three weeks after his death, Higgs and Kathy Augustine were married.
Las Vegas police Lt. Lew Roberts said it was too early to say the exhumation was part of a homicide investigation.
Reno Police Chief Michael Poehlman said a doctor's hunch helped investigators determine Kathy Augustine was killed by an injection of succinylcholine, not a heart attack.
"It was good work by the folks in the hospital," Poehlman said at a Monday new conference. "Doctors had some suspicions. They froze some urine as a sample because of the belief that something may have been done in this case and it was in this sample that this drug was found."
Higgs said nothing during Monday's short extradition hearing in Hampton. Nevada authorities have 30 days to pick him up.
"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. He said Higgs had been notifying Nevada authorities of his whereabouts and was surprised when he was arrested on the murder charge.