Source AP ©

Man accused of killing his wife attempts suicide

A man accused of killing his wife - former Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine - attempted suicide by slashing his wrists a day after testifying in his own defense.

Washoe County District Judge Steven Kosach suspended the trial after Chaz Higgs was found early Tuesday in a Reno apartment he shared with his mother.

Defense attorney David Houston said Higgs slit his wrists during the night with a knife and was taken to a Reno hospital. His injury did not appear life-threatening, Houston said.

Higgs, 43, had been expected to face tough questioning from prosecutors Tuesday, after testifying Monday that he was innocent and that he loved Augustine even though he had decided to leave her.

Higgs, a critical care nurse, is accused of killing his 50-year-old wife by injecting her with succinylcholine - a powerful muscle relaxant used to immobilize patients before breathing tubes are inserted. The defense contends she died of heart failure.

The judge revoked Higgs' $250,0000 (1,857,355 EUR) bail and ordered both sides to return to court Wednesday. He did not call a mistrial but said he would not rule out the possibility if Higgs' recovery is lengthy.

Houston insisted Higgs' suicide attempt was not motivated by a fear of cross-examination. He said it had been difficult for Higgs to relive his wife's death on the witness stand Monday.

"His goal was to clear his name and then to join his wife. He felt he cleared his name yesterday," Houston said.

Three days after Augustine died July 11, Higgs tried to commit suicide in Las Vegas. He was released the same day and did not attend his wife's funeral.

Last July 8, Higgs called an ambulance and said he had found her unresponsive in bed at their Reno home. She died three days later when she was removed from life support.

Doctors initially thought Augustine had suffered a heart attack. But Higgs was charged with murder after authorities determined she died of succinylcholine poisoning. He has pleaded not guilty and could be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted.

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