Families of killer, victim make pleas to judge in Troy roommate murder

Victim’s family seeks life without parole for Higgins, saying Easton Ho was smart man betrayed by friend

TROY — A Miami County judge heard testimony Monday about a Troy man’s brutal killing of his roommate, as she determines whether Sean Higgins, 26, will face life in prison without parole, or life in prison with parole eligibility after 20, 25 or 30 years in the death of Easton Ho, 25.

Judge Stacy Wall, who heard from Troy police investigators and members of Ho’s family and Higgins’ family, said she will sentence Higgins on Monday, Dec. 12, on charges of murder, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence (two counts), theft and receiving stolen property. Police said Higgins cut off Ho’s thumb and kept it so he could continue accessing Ho’s phone.

Higgins earlier pleaded guilty to all charges in county Common Pleas Court.

“I cannot explain why I did the crimes I did, but I have taken full responsibility,” Higgins told Wall on Monday.

Credit: Miami County Jail

Credit: Miami County Jail

Defense lawyer Jose Lopez said Higgins admitted killing Ho from the beginning. “I cannot figure out what the motivation for it was,” Lopez said. “The acts are so inconsistent with the young man I came to know.”

County Prosecutor Tony Kendell called Higgins a “monster … He doesn’t deserve a second chance.”

Kendell said in the interview where Higgins admitted the killing, he told Troy Police Detective Capt. Jeff Kunkleman that he had been planning on killing Ho for over five years.

Kendell said he was “in the presence of pure evil,” calling Higgins’ actions cowardly, including standing over a sleeping Ho and striking him in the head with a mini sledgehammer.

Members of Ho’s family and his girlfriend all asked Wall to choose life without parole.

“He was betrayed by someone he considered a friend,” one of Ho’s sisters said. Family members described Ho as “crazy smart,” and a black sheep in the family and society who loved Legos and his work at LJB Engineering.

Members of Higgins’ family, including an aunt, brother, grandmother and parents, all testified they were stunned when they heard the allegations against Sean. They called him “quiet” and “caring,” saying they saw no propensity for violence.

Kunkleman testified about the investigation into the death of Ho, whose naked body was found April 15 in an Indiana creek. He suffered from wounds inflicted to the head, neck, chest and back by a hand sledgehammer and a knife with a 7-inch blade.

Ho was attacked while sleeping on the couch in an apartment he shared with his girlfriend and Higgins in Troy. Higgins further attacked Ho in the garage and then drove over him while he was under the car Higgins later used to take the body to Indiana, Wall was told.

The body and bedding were dumped in the creek — a location Higgins later disclosed in questioning.

After Ho was reported missing by his roommates, including Higgins, police said they checked their apartment, finding evidence of blood in the garage, empty Clorox bottles in the recycling bin and what was described as an “almost overwhelming odor of Clorox.”

A deputy Montgomery County coroner testified about Ho’s autopsy. Sean Swiatkowski, said Ho suffered multiple blunt force injuries and sharp force injuries to his head, neck, chest and back, adding that approximately 60 wounds were documented.

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