ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Three St. Petersburg men will spend the rest of their days in federal prison after murdering two people in an assassination plot following a decision by a U.S. district judge.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Kermon “The General” Williams, 42; James “Hammer” Higgs, Jr., 40; and Jhaphre “Pre” Higgs, 35, were found guilty for the murders of Tywan Armstrong and Roger Ford in 2019.
Court documents said Williams ordered his two co-conspirators to kill Armstrong, a rival drug dealer. because Williams saw him as a threat to his drug business. Williams gave the two men cash, drugs, and an AR-15 to carry out the murder.
Their first attempt on Armstrong’s life on Sept. 22, 2018, did not succeed. The two men shot the rival drug dealer multiple times, but he survived, authorities said.
According to the DOJ, Williams then told James and Jhaphre Higgs to make the murder “as public as possible” to send a message.
On Jan. 21, 2019, the two gunmen fired upon Armstrong’s car with an AR-15 and a .40 caliber pistol in front of a crowded St. Petersburg gas station.
Authorities said Armstrong was hit with bullets 26 times. Ford, who was riding in the front of the car, was shot 11 times while a rear passenger was hit multiple times as well.
St. Petersburg police officers and rescue personnel tried to save the men, but Armstrong and Ford died from their wounds.
All three men were arrested on federal charges for the double murder. A federal jury found them guilty on June 24, 2022.
“This demonstrates how science – in this case, digital ballistics technology – can breathe life into violent gun crime cases,” said ATF Tampa Field Division Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Saier. “And despite the twist and turns over the course of the three-plus year investigation, we never gave up.”
Even before Armstrong’s assassination, all of the defendants had previous felony convictions Williams was convicted of performing a lewd and lascivious act in the presence of a child under the age of 16, Jhaphre Higgs was convicted of aggravated battery with possession of a firearm, and James Higgs, Jr. was convicted of accessory after the fact to murder.
In addition to their life sentences for murdering Armstrong and Ford, all three defendants were given an additional 20 years’ imprisonment.