TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Three men were convicted for the 2019 murder of two people in St. Petersburg, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Kermon Williams, 42; James Higgs Jr., 40; and Jhaphre Higgs, 35, were convicted Monday in the murder of Roger Lee Ford Jr. and Tywan Jeremiah Armstrong on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2019.
The DOJ said the three defendants killed Ford and Armstrong since they were an apparent threat to William’s drug business.
Williams paid James and Jhaphre Higgs with drugs and money to kill Armstrong on Sept. 22, 2018, but Armstrong survived due to the pair’s AR-15 rifle jamming, according to court testimony. Williams then had his two co-defendants to make Armstrong’s murder “as public as possible to send a message on the street.”
The DOJ said that James and Jhaphre Higgs killed Armstrong and Ford on Jan 21, 2019, after firing into their car, injuring a third victim as well. The shooting happened in front of a large crowd at a St. Petersburg gas station, officials said.
“Testimony from the medical examiner at trial established that Armstrong was shot 28 times and Ford was shot 11 times,” she said. “Despite heroic efforts on the part of officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department and members of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, both victims died from their injuries. Forensic specialists from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office processed the crime scene and recovered multiple shell casings used in the murders.”
Each suspect was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, drug conspiracy, and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Jhaphre and James Higgs, Jr. were also convicted of being felons in possession of ammunition.
All the suspects face a minimum of 20 years up to a maximum of life in federal prison for their crimes. Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27, 2022.