Jailhouse Interview with the Man Accused of Killing James Sanders
INSIDE EDITION's Jim Moret asked one too many tough questions for the accused triggerman in the so-called Craigslist killing. His lawyer brought an abrupt end to the jailhouse interview when Moret repeatedly asked about the horrific crime.
"Did you shoot this man in cold blood? Did you shoot him in front of his wife?" Moret asked Kiyoshi Higashi.
"No...let's wrap up," interjected Higashi's lawyer.
But before Higashi walked out, Moret was able to get some intriguing answers from the accused murderer.
"I'm not a monster. I'm just somebody who's made some poor choices in life," Higashi told Moret.
The 22-year-old was allegedly one of four people who showed up at a house near Tacoma, Washington, on the pretext of buying a diamond ring the homeowner had advertised on Craigslist.
Authorities say that once inside the house, the gang then pulled a gun and tied up and terrorized homeowner Jim Sanders, his wife, and two young sons.
Sanders was shot dead when he tried to protect his 14-year-old from a pistol-whipping.
"Even cops and prosecutors who have seen it all, this touched a nerve with us because the crime was so brutal, the murder was so senseless and the victims are such good people," Pierce Country prosecutor Mark Lindquist told INSIDE EDITION.
Police say Higashi was the one who pulled the trigger. He's pleaded not guilty to murder.
The woman who was his alleged accomplice also appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to murder. The victim's devastated widow, Charlene Sanders, looked on from the front row.
A few days later, Charlene and a group of family members packed the courthouse again to come face-to-face with Higashi and his other two alleged accomplices, who also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
"What do you feel toward this family, this grieving family?" Moret asked the accused killer.
"I pray for them," said Higashi.
"The man who was killed, do you literally pray for this man?"
"Yes sir, because nobody deserves that," Higashi said.
Whenever Moret asked about the events of that night, Higashi's lawyer stepped in.
Higashi is being held in a unit of the Pierce County jail, along with other maximum security inmates but he's kept separate from the other defendants in his case. He is only allowed out of his 7x12 cell for four hours a day
"Have you followed any of the news coverage on this case?" Moret asked him
"We're not allowed to have newspapers where I'm at," he said.
"Do you have a sense that people are outraged by what you have allegedly done?"
Higashi said, "Yeah."
The 22-year-old says he's a junkie whose first experience with drugs was at age 13. He also admits to a life of crime. His rap sheet includes assaults, robbery and animal cruelty.
But, he says, "I'm not just some horrible person who likes to hurt people. I had a hard life but that's not an excuse."
Higashi's sheepish demeanor continued even as his attorney stepped in and demanded Moret wrap up the interview.
But Mark Lindquist says don't be fooled. "Talk to Charlene Sanders about who it was that came into her house that night. It wasn't somebody sheepish," he told INSIDE EDITION.