Woman sentenced to 70 months for ‘cover up’ after man killed in front of kids in Riverside

The mother of a woman who helped orchestrate the death of her ex-husband — shot multiple times in front of three of his children in a Riverside parking lot — was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison for helping cover it up.

Chandra Harmon, 57, of Burlington, Kentucky, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the intimidation of a witness, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose.

“In this situation, although your specific offense was not a crime of violence in itself, it was an offense that involved an attempt, and to some degree a successful attempt, to cover up a violent crime and to help violent offenders evade law enforcement and evade prosecution,” Rose said during the sentencing hearing at the Walter H. Rice Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Dayton.

The case against Harmon stems from the killing of Robert “Bobby” Caldwell. Prosecutors allege Sterling Roberts, who was the boyfriend of Tawnney Caldwell — Bobby Caldwell’s ex-wife and Harmon’s daughter — shot Bobby Caldwell 12 times in August 2017 as he was leaving a court-appointed counseling session with his three sons. The Caldwells had been in a custody dispute, prosecutors said.

Roberts has pleaded not guilty in the case while Tawnney Caldwell was sentenced to 35 years in prison last month.

Prosecutors said in a court document in the case against Harmon that she tried to persuade a witness, who was identified in court as her husband, James Harmon, from providing information to the FBI and instructed him to dispose of a firearm.

They also accused Chandra Harmon of knowing about the plot to kill Bobby Caldwell. She has denied that.

Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Harmon to the recommended guideline of 70 to 87 months in prison, while the defense Monday asked the judge to sentence her to 36 months in prison.

“Once I learned what happened, I should have just stayed completely out of it and allow the criminal justice system to work,” Harmon said in court. “I felt that I was in a panic, I became upset, worried, concerned for my daughter and I knew that giving advice … to them was wrong.”

It was out of a concern for her daughter and husband that she crossed the line by counseling her husband not to cooperate with authorities, the defense said in the memorandum filed ahead of the sentencing hearing.

Monday’s hearing followed a hearing held in July when Bobby Caldwell’s sister, brother, mother and wife spoke to the judge about him. They said he was a caring father who adored his children.

They also expressed their belief that Harmon knew about the murder plot and could have stopped it. Instead, they said she harassed their family afterward. Bobby Caldwell’s brother said Harmon was not a loyal mother, but instead an evil criminal.

Bobby Caldwell’s wife also spoke and said that Bobby Caldwell would have forgiven the defendants because that’s the type of guy he was.

Meanwhile, three character witnesses who knew Harmon through her work as a nurse spoke on her behalf. They said they had never seen her treat anyone poorly, but rather that she is respected for the way she cares for children who are sick.

Rose allowed Harmon to voluntarily turn herself into authorities at a later date.

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