Family member of shooting-death victim suggests someone else also involved

Staff report


A not-guilty plea was entered Monday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court 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.

A search of area court records suggests Caviness has little to no criminal record after living in the Warren area more than a decade.

After the hearing, Bender’s father, William Williams Sr. of Warren, said his son was at a private gathering at Madden’s Bar & Grill on Youngstown Road earlier the night he was killed.

Capt. John Marshall of the Niles Police Department said it appears Caviness also was in the tavern, but Williams said Caviness “wasn’t supposed to be there.”

Williams told reporters he believes a relative of Caviness may have been the person who killed his son and that Caviness may have turned himself in to protect the other person.

When Marshall was asked about Williams’ allegation, he said, “Not at this time” but said he will notify reporters if additional charges are filed.

Williams said he is also the father of William Williams Jr., who was found shot to death Aug. 20, 2017, on Northwest Boulevard Northwest.

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