MILWAUKEE -- Dariaz Higgins, 35, on Thursday, April 4, pleaded not guilty to amended charges filed in connection with the shooting March 11 near 91st and Mill that killed the mother of his child, Sierra Robinson.
Higgins faces one count of first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon for the shooting of Robinson. He faces one count of attempted first degree intentional homicide for the shooting of Robinson's friend. He faces one count of first degree recklessly endangering safety for injuries to a neighbor who told police "he was shot in the neck" during the incident.
Neighbor struck during shooting near 91st and Mill
He was initially charged with first degree intentional homicide for the death of Robinson, and first degree recklessly endangering safety for the shooting of her friend. That charge was upgraded to attempted homicide, and he's now charged in the shooting of the neighbor.
During Higgins' preliminary hearing on Thursday, his attorney, Alejandro Lockwood, raised concerns about the condition in which Higgins was brought into the courtroom -- expressing concerns about the fact that he was in a wheelchair, shackled, and wearing a device the attorney said could send 50,000 volts into his body.
"Your Honor, before we begin with the issue of the preliminary hearing, I would like, and I think I brought this to your attention a few minutes ago, but I'd like to bring it now, concerning the manner in which Mr. Higgins was brought into this courtroom. I would like the record to show that Mr. Higgins was brought in a wheelchair. He is strapped on both shoulders. He is strapped to a belly chain. Both of his feet are shackled to a chain, and he's also wearing a device around his left leg that can shock, or can send a shock of 50,000 volts. It is absolutely unnecessary to do that. I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Higgins twice in the County Jail. We sat down in a conference room without any problems at all. He was brought in without any restraints. Mr. Higgins was civil. He was respectful, and he was gracious. This is not fair, Commissioner, to treat a human being like Mr. Higgins without the dignity and respect that he deserves. I want Mr. Higgins to be treated like everyone who is accused of a charge. He has the constitutional right to be presumed innocent, and the manner in which he was brought here undermines that principle, and for those reasons, Your Honor, I protest the way in which my client, Mr. Higgins, was brought into this courtroom," said Lockwood.
"I've been doing this almost 15 years -- with charges as serious, equally serious or less serious. Usually, the practice is not to bring someone out like that. Usually, if someone comes out like that, it's for a reason, and not just because of the charges. Because you met with me in the back, I did a little inquiry. You say that your client has been gracious, respectful. Unfortunately he hasn't been that way in the jail, allegedly, so because of that behavior, the sheriff's department has taken safety measures to make sure he acts appropriately in court. So as to your second concern, with the mechanism that can shock him, as long as he acts the way he's supposed to act, he won't have to worry about that. So I appreciate you making the protest on behalf of your client, but Milwaukee County takes certain measures when you don't act appropriately, allegedly of course," said the court commissioner.
You'll recall, an Amber Alert was issued in the hours after this shooting for the 2-year-old daughter of Higgins and Robinson -- Noelani Robinson. A body believed to be Noelani's was found March 15 in Minnesota.
Higgins received the amended criminal complaint in court Thursday during his preliminary hearing -- when probable cause was found for further proceedings and he was bound over for trial. A scheduling conference was set for April 18.
Police were called out to 91st and Mill around 1 p.m. March 11, where Robinson was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her friend identified the shooter as "her boyfriend Darius Taylor," who was "in Milwaukee to give (Robinson) her baby." She was taken to the hospital for treatment of multiple gunshot wounds.
The complaint said she told investigators Higgins was her former pimp, along with Robinson's former pimp. She said Robinson became pregnant while Higgins was her pimp, and they stayed together with their child, Noelani. In February, Robinson "no longer wanted to be with (Higgins), and she moved to Las Vegas, leaving Noelani with Higgins. Once in Vegas, Robinson was "trying to get her child from (Higgins)," and the friend indicated she was trying to help with that. She said Higgins "finally agreed to give Noelani" to Robinson, and on March 9, Robinson flew to Milwaukee. On March 11, she said Higgins agreed to let Robinson have Noelani and told them to come to 22nd and Fond du Lac. They took an Uber to that location and met Higgins, who did not have Noelani, but said he would take them to her later. The friend told investigators they "drove around, smoking weed, drinking and talking about old times," with Higgins telling Robinson they should get back together, and she agreed. The friend noted she observed a firearm in the driver's map pocket in the SUV Higgins was in. They eventually drove to 91st and Mill, which was where Higgins told them Noelani was. They parked and got out, and as they were walking up to the apartment building, the friend said she heard gunshots and saw Higgins shooting her and Robinson -- before getting back into the SUV and driving away. She identified Higgins as the shooter via a photo.
At the scene near 91st and Mill, the complaint said a neighbor across the street from where Robinson and her friend were found "believed he was shot in the neck." He said he was sitting on his couch in his home, next to a large window, and witnessed the shooting. He said one of the shots struck the window where he was sitting. He said a bullet entered the house and he was struck by glass fragments, which struck his neck and face. The complaint said officers observed a hole in the living room window and a bullet fragment in the bathroom of the home.
Higgins was arrested March 13 near 103rd and Caldwell in Milwaukee. Cash bond was set at 1 million in this case on March 17, when Higgins made his initial court appearance.
Shooting near 91st and Mill
Shooting near 91st and Mill
He is suspected in the death of Noelani Robinson, but has not been charged.
Deloise Lipsey, 31, was bound over for trial after waiving her right to a preliminary hearing in Milwaukee County court on April 1. Lipsey is charged with aiding a felon. The criminal complaint filed against Deloise Lipsey appears to indicate Noelani Robinson died before Sierra Robinson. A criminal complaint said Lipsey was with Higgins for several days before and after Sierra Robinson was fatally shot. The complaint said Lipsey knew about the homicide, but did not contact police. Prosecutors said Lipsey was with Higgins when "trash" was dumped on the side of the road in Minnesota -- near where Noelani's body was later found.
Below is a timeline of important events in this case, according to prosecutors:
March 11: Lipsey and Higgins drove to Milwaukee, arriving early in the morning. After doing drugs and buying liquor, they parted ways in the late morning. At 1 p.m., Higgins fatally shot Sierra Robinson and wounded another woman near 91st and Mill, according to prosecutors. At 2 p.m., Lipsey and Higgins met up again to buy Higgins' glasses. They then got on the freeway and drove for several hours. In the early evening, Lipsey received a call from a friend informing her that Higgins had shot two women and took his daughter, Noelani. Lipsey said at that point, "she was scared, but decided to play along with Higgins." That evening, they drove through Chicago to Detroit. Around 8 p.m., an Amber Alert was issued for Noelani Robinson, believed to have been abducted by Higgins, her father.
March 12: Lipsey and Higgins arrived in Lansing, where they rented a motel. Lipsey paid cash. She then went to Walmart, where he told her to buy him bleach. She told investigators she didn't know what it was for. Criminal charges were filed against Higgins for the 91st and Mill double shooting. Lipsey and Higgins went back to the Lansing motel -- drinking and doing drugs in a vehicle in the parking lot. Two squads pulled up, and they were asked for their IDs. As Lipsey was out of the vehicle giving them her ID, Higgins sped off in the vehicle, leaving Lipsey behind. One officer chased Higgins, while the other stayed with her. She never told that officer that Higgins was a murder suspect.
Incident involving Dariaz Higgins, Deloise Lipsey in Livonia, Michigan
March 13: Higgins and another man were arrested on Milwaukee's far northwest side.
Noelani Robinson's body found in Minnesota
March 15: Noelani Robinson's body was found wrapped in a blanket in a ditch near Austin, Minnesota. A preliminary investigation revealed the manner of death was homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head.
March 16: Lipsey was interviewed by Milwaukee police. Prosecutors said she acknowledged she "messed up" by not alerting somebody or notifying police that she was with Higgins.
March 17: Higgins appeared in court in Milwaukee County on charges in the 91st and Mill shooting. Cash bond was set at $1 million. Lipsey was arrested and held in the Milwaukee Count Jail on $50,000.
March 18: The alleged accomplice arrested with Higgins was released from custody. No charges were filed.
March 20: Lipsey was charged with harboring/aiding a fugitive. She made her initial court appearance and was released on a $3,500 signature bond.