Caviness pleads not guilty in June 11 fatal shooting

WARREN — A not-guilty plea was entered today in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court today for Robin L. Caviness Jr., 39, in the June 11 murder of Clayton Bender, 23, outside a Niles tavern.

Not guilty pleas were also entered to three counts of felonious assault and one of possession of a firearm in a liquor-permit premises.

Caviness' bond of $2 million, which was set in Niles Municipal Court, continues. Caviness, of Elm Road in Howland, told Judge W. Wyatt McKay he had hired a lawyer, but his lawyer was not present in court.

When the judge asked Caviness whether he wanted another lawyer to stand in for the hearing, Caviness said, "I've never been in this situation before" but agreed to allow the arraignment to continue without an attorney.

Caviness appears to have no prior criminal record and told another judge last week that he has six children.

After the hearing, Bender's father William Williams Sr., said his son was at a gathering in Madden's Bar & Grill on Youngstown Road, but Caviness "wasn't supposed to be there."

Williams said he believes it's possible that someone else there that night ought to be charged in the case.

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