Charges changed from manslaughter to murder in Ardmore shooting death

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 8:30 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - The Ardmore man accused of shooting and killing George Powell IV in January is now facing a murder charge.

The accused man, 21-year-old Jonathan Higginbotham Jr. was originally charged with manslaughter. First he was charged in state courts, then the charges were picked up by federal courts because he’s Chickasaw.

Higginbotham was arrested in late September after a seven month long manhunt.

Ardmore police said they responded to an accidental shooting call January 19th at a house at the corner of D Street SE and 6th Ave. SE.

Police were suspicious after hearing witnesses’ accounts, which they said didn’t line up with the evidence.

A federal complaint states witnesses saw Higginbotham load the gun, cock it, take off the safety and point it at 22-year-old Powell before he pulled the trigger.

Witnesses said they heard Powell tell Higginbotham to make sure it wasn’t loaded after they heard the weapon cocked back.

After the shot was fired, one witness stated he heard Higginbotham chuckle, and the witness thought Powell was joking when he fell to the floor.

That’s different than what a witness originally claimed, that the gun had fired after it fell off of a dog kennel.

The agent says they tested that theory themselves with the same weapon and the gun didn’t go off.

Powell later died from the gunshot wound to the left side of his chest.

Federal court documents say last month Higginbotham did admit to shooting Powell but “tried to characterize it as an accident.”

KXII spoke to George Powell’s mother Wednesday morning, She said she just wants the truth to come out and to get justice for her son.

A preliminary hearing was held Tuesday for Higginbotham...and he remains in US Marshal custody.

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