A pair of defendants cannot face the death penalty in a case where authorities say a man was killed in front of his children.
Jennifer Thorton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio spokeswoman, told the Dayton Daily News that a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court disallows the punishment in the federal case against Sterling Roberts and his co-defendant Tawnney Caldwell.
Roberts and Caldwell were federally indicted in the August 2017 killing of Robert “Bobby” Caldwell, 35, who was slain in front of three of his sons in a Riverside parking lot.
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Prosecutors allege that on Aug. 15, 2017, Sterling Roberts used a firearm he illegally possessed and traveled across state lines to stalk and murder Bobby Caldwell.
Authorities say the shooting took place in a Riverside parking lot. Roberts’ brothers Chance Deakin and Christopher Roberts and Tawnney Caldwell’s mother Chandra Harmon and stepfather James Harmon were also charged in connection to the incident.
At the time of the indictment, Roberts and Caldwell — Bobby’s ex-wife — faced the potential sentence of death and federal prosecutors had until May to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case, according to court documents.
“Due to a recent Supreme Court decision, the interstate stalking charge is no longer a qualifying predicate offense,” Thornton said in an email. “As a result, we will not be pursuing seeking the death penalty.”’
Roberts attorney, Donald Malarcik, told the Dayton Daily News in an email that “the entire defense team is relieved that Sterling will not face the death penalty. In a time when resources are scarce and communities are reevaluating funding for law enforcement, the time has come to defund the death penalty.”
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Roberts and Caldwell are due back in court on Nov. 5 for a final pretrial hearing. Their jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 30.
However, in a motion that was granted this month, Robert’s attorney said they are evaluating evidence in the case and exploring possible plea negotiations with the government.