Jurors likely to view scene of Niles murder at start of trial set for today


story tease

Staff report

WARREN

As early as today, jurors in the Robin L. Caviness Jr. murder trial are expected to view the scene of the June 11 killing of Clayton Bender, 23, behind Madden’s Bar on Youngstown Road in Niles.

Bender, of Warren, died after being shot while sitting in the back of a Cadillac behind the tavern.

Caviness, 39, of Elm Road, who appears to have little to no criminal record, goes on trial in Bender’s slaying today in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Caviness is also charged with three counts of felonious assault and one of possession of a firearm in a liquor-permit premises.

Police say Bender was part of a group that went to the tavern that night for a private gathering to memorialize a man who was murdered several months earlier in Warren.

They also believe Caviness and others with him also may have just come from the bar at the time of the shooting. Police believe there was a physical altercation between the two groups, including two other people with Bender, before the gunfire.

Bender’s father, William Williams Sr. of Warren, told reporters that Caviness “wasn’t supposed to be there” at the gathering.

Prosecutors recently asked Judge W. Wyatt McKay to allow jurors to be taken on a jury view of the tavern and nearby areas so they can see the “places where material facts occurred and/or material evidence was found.” The judge has not ruled on the motion.

The motion says “It is important for the jury to view this location so that they will be able to see and understand the events that are alleged in this case. There will be extensive eyewitness testimony and evidence relating to this location.”

If Caviness is convicted of the killing, he could get life in prison with parole eligibility after 15 years, but the charges also carry a specification that a gun was used, so that would likely add three more years.

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