By Alicia Neaves
MIDLAND COUNTY - Inmate 27-35-11. That's how Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter referred to the killer of his fallen deputy.
On Friday morning, deputies and family of fallen Sergeant Mike Naylor gathered to finally put a close to this tragic chapter.
Dan Higgins faces back to back life sentences in a state prison without parole for capital murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.
Normally though, criminals guilty of capital murder face the death penalty. This case was different, thanks to the mercy of Mike Naylor's widow.
"We are thankful that this is over," Midland County Sheriff, Gary Painter, said. "Only time right now can help settle the feelings that most of us have."
Justice has been served in the murder case of fallen Sergeant Deputy Mike Naylor of Midland County.
"The Midland County Sheriff's Office not only lost a brother and a friend, this county lost a great employee," Painter said.
Naylor and his fellow deputies arrived to Dan Higgins' home back in October to arrest him for continuous sexual assault of a child. Higgins resisted, and as Naylor tried to negotiate with him, Higgins fired his gun, striking the deputy in the head. Naylor later died at the hospital and Higgins eventually surrendered after an hours-long standoff.
"The situation that occurred on that day in October was one of the most horrible and drastic, terrible things that I have ever seen, that has happened in this county," Painter said. "[Higgins] took it upon himself to make that decision that, in a split second, it changed so many people's lives. Now he's gotta live with it and he's gotta think about it every single day."
Higgins faces life in prison without parole. His sexual assault of a child case will be dismissed but he signed a judicial confession filed along with his capital murder case.
When asked if Higgins showed any remorse for what he did, District Attorney Teresa Clingman said Higgins was sobbing in court when Naylor's wife spoke but never when law enforcement officers gave testimonies. Instead, she said Higgins made a statement himself to Naylor's fellow deputies.
"'Sorry, fella. I killed one of your own,' or, 'I know this was one of your own.' If you wanna call that an expression of remorse, you can. I don't. In the courtroom yesterday, he was crying tears, sobbing for himself," Clingman said.
The typical punishment for capital murder is the death penalty but this case was different.
"I don't know if Mr. Higgins truly appreciates what Denise Naylor did for him but he was given a gift," Clingman said.
Denise Naylor, the widow of Mike Naylor, asked for the courts to not seek the death penalty.
"Midland County inmate 273511 will leave this county and never, never come back," Painter said.