Man accused of killing Noelani Robinson in 2019, makes first appearance

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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Currently serving life sentence in Wisconsin in the shooting death of the girl’s mother


The man charged in the death of a two-year-old girl and currently serving a life sentence in Wisconsin for the death of the girl’s mother, made an appearance in Mower County District Court Thursday morning.

Dariaz Lewis Higgins, 40, is charged with second degree murder without intent for the death of two-year-old Noelani Robinson, whose body was discovered in a Steele County ditch on the outskirts of Blooming Prairie in March of 2019.

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He is currently serving a life sentence at Waupun Correctional Institution for the March 11 shooting death of 24-year-old Sierra Robinson, Robinson’s mother. He was arrested in that case prior to the discovery of Robinson’s body and was tried first by Milwaukee County.

Higgins was sentenced on July 26, 2021 to a life sentence for first degree intentional homicide and 20 years in prison for attempted first degree intentional homicide with the two sentences ordered to run consecutively.

The sentences were part of a plea deal, however, an appeal to the sentence was entered on Feb. 20, 2023.

According to court records, a plea of not guilty has been entered in the Mower County case and Higgins has entered a request for a speedy trial. His next appearance is a plea hearing scheduled for April 3 and a court trial has been set for May 20. 

Thursday’s appearance was held remotely and comes just over five years after Robinson’s body was discovered in the east ditch north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 218 and Minnesota Highway 30 in Steele County, wrapped in a blanket, by a passerby on March 15, 2019.

Robinson was the subject of an Amber Alert issued by the Milwaukee Police Department on March 11, 2019 after the shooting of Sierra Robinson.

According to the court complaint, an autopsy conducted on Robinson concluded that the girl had died as a result of blunt force trauma to her head and that the injuries suffered both to her head and body were inconsistent with Higgins’ story that she had fallen off the toilet and died.

While Robinson’s body was discovered in Steele County, court documents reveal that she had been with Higgins, her father, prior to that at the Rodeway Inn Motel in Austin from Feb. 6, 2019 until about March 10, 2019.

An agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension questioned a witness who had known Higgins and learned that the witness had visited with Higgins during that time period at the Rodeway, indicating he had last spoken to him on March 9, 2019.

The witness also confirmed that it was Robinson with Higgins.

In a statement to Milwaukee investigators, Higgins allegedly positively identified Robinson and told the investigator the story about the fall from the toilet. He went on to say that he wrapped the girl’s body in blankets, where she was for a couple days before leaving her body in the ditch on March 10, 2019.