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Officials say no robbery in lawyer's slaying

ODESSA — Investigators have found no signs of forced entry at the home of a lawyer and horseman found slain Friday, and Hillsborough sheriff's officials said Saturday that the killing doesn't appear to be a robbery.

Lawrence Paul Higgins, 61, was found dead at his large home in the upscale Citrus Green neighborhood Friday morning. By Friday night, the medical examiner had ruled Higgins' death a homicide.

Sheriff's officials have only said that Higgins died of trauma to the upper torso.

A business associate who has a key to his house found Higgins. The associate went to the home because he hadn't heard from Higgins in a couple of days, said Debbie Carter, a Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman.

Investigators aren't identifying the associate, nor are they saying where in the house the body was found.

Higgins was a lawyer, race horse owner, and executive officer of Icarus Aircraft, which provides blimps and flight crews to corporations such as Liberty Mutual and Outback Steakhouse.

Higgins practiced law in Washington, D.C., before moving to Florida. He raced horses in West Virginia and Tampa, friends said.

"He had nice horses, and he won a lot of races," said Kathy Guciardo, who also raced at Tampa Bay Downs.

Higgins lived in the Odessa home, worth about $740,000, with his wife, Susan Courter, and his son, Wes Higgins.

However, a neighbor said Courter moved out a couple of months ago.

Hillsborough County records show that Higgins filed for divorce May 30, but the outcome is unclear. Courter and other family members could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Officials say no robbery in lawyer's slaying 10/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 13, 2008 6:16pm]
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