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Jury finds Derek Connell guilty of murder in deaths of his mother and stepfather

Man charged with killing mother and step-father released from hospital
Posted at 4:08 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 19:08:10-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A Kern County jury found Derek Connell, 33, guilty in the 2016 shooting deaths of his mother and stepfather.

On Thursday the jury returned with a guilty verdict of first-degree murder of Connell's stepfather, Chris Higginbotham. He was found guilty of second-degree murder of his mother, Kim Higginbotham.

On April 30, 2016, officers responded to the Higginbotham home on Lily Pad Court in Northwest Bakersfield to find a bloody scene. Chris's body was laying face-down covered in bleach and comet cleaning powder. He had been shot multiple times. Kim was found approximately 20-feet away with a single gunshot wound.

Police said they were alerted to the scene by Kim's sister in Ireland. She told officers her nephew, Connell, Facetimed her the crime scene.

During the trial, Connell testified that he did not kill his mother, but shot his stepfather in an act of self-defense.

Connell testified that his stepfather sexually abused and molested him from the ages of 10 to 14-years-old. He testified that on the night of the killings, Connell finally told his mother about the abuse. According to Connell, she confonted his stepfather who then killed his mother.

Connell testified that after his stepfather killed his mother, a struggle ensued and Connell shot his stepfather.

The prosecution argued during closing arguments that Connell repeatedly lied to police during the investigation and therefor his testimony of what happened that night could not be trusted.

During the investigation, Connell was interviewed three separate times and each time, his story changed. The prosecution pointed out that during the first interview Connell "swore to God" he was telling the truth, only to admit later on that his original statement was a lie.

Connell is expected to be sentenced on March 12.