Sterling Roberts

Man accused of pulling trigger in murder plot case pleads not guilty

The man indicted for shooting and killing Robert “Bobby” Caldwell in August 2017 was arraigned Tuesday in federal court as members of Caldwell’s family watched in the gallery.

Sterling Roberts, 35, could face the death penalty if convicted on the indicted charges in Dayton’s U.S. District Court. Caldwell, 35, of Beavercreek, was killed in front of his three sons, one of whom went missing for about a year after Caldwell’s funeral.

RELATED: Man accused of killing father in front of his sons in local jail

Roberts’ attorneys on Tuesday entered not guilty pleas for him. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rose set a March 12 scheduling conference.

“This is definitely not a day we’ve been looking forward to. It’s definitely a lot of dread on our part. None of us really want to see him,” said Katie Swift, Bobby’s sister. “We don’t want to see the face of the man who pulled the trigger. But we aren’t here for Sterling. We’re here for Bobby.”

Roberts recently was sentenced to 10 years in South Carolina for an unrelated federal gun crime. He was moved to a federal prison in Oklahoma before being transferred Jan. 25 to Butler County Jail.

RELATED: Accused killer of Beavercreek man sentenced in South Carolina

Roberts faces counts of stalking, felon in possession of a firearm, discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Benjamin Glassman said the counts against Sterling Roberts and Tawnney (Thomas) Caldwell (Bobby’s ex-wife), are death-penalty eligible.

The lengthy process that determines if prosecutors actually seek the death penalty is up to the Attorney General of the United States, Glassman said.

RELATED: Local woman made $2.5 million in sex-for-money scheme, feds say

Four others — Sterling’s brothers Christopher Roberts and Chance Deakin plus Tawnney’s mother and stepfather, Chandra and James Harmon — are charged in what prosecutors have called a murder-for-hire plot.

“These are very serious charges, there’s no doubt about that,” Glassman said. “I commend the FBI and the local law enforcement agencies that have worked with the FBI to bring these defendants to trial.

“I think that rather than just get one person who pulled the trigger, every person who was in any way involved in the chain of events leading up to the murder have been charged.”

RELATED: Lawsuit: Woman used escort service funds to help pay for murder of Beavercreek man

According to the six-count indictment, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 5, 2017, Sterling Roberts cyber-stalked Robert Caldwell via cell phone through the assistance of Tawnney Caldwell.

Prosecutors allege that on Aug. 15, 2017, Sterling Roberts used a firearm he illegally possessed and traveled across state lines to stalk and murder Robert Caldwell. Tawnney Caldwell, Deakin, Christopher Roberts and James Harmon are all charged with aiding and abetting the illegal gun possession.

Prosecutors allege Tawnney Caldwell obstructed justice by destroying the contents and data of a cell phone. Tawnney Caldwell and Chandra Harmon also allegedly conspired to intimidate and threaten witnesses related to the case in November 2017.

RELATED: Court records show Riverside homicide suspect has history of mental, criminal problems

Three adults in the home where missing teen Jacob Caldwell was found in August have been charged with interference with custody, according to Miamisburg Municipal Court records.

Donald Bell, 48, Jo Anne Henderson, 52, and Zacheriah Henderson, 23, all each charged with one first-degree misdemeanor.

WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT: Caldwell’s wife sues federal defendants, sheriff for husband’s death

MORE ON JACOB CALDWELL: Missing teen found a year after witnessing his father’s death had run away before, records show

EARLIER: Ex-wife, 5 others indicted in 2017 killing of Ohio man

MORE: Read other stories from Mark Gokavi

SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow Mark Gokavi on Twitter or Facebook

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE MOBILE APPS

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.