U.S. Attorney: Superseding indictment returned in Cairo bank robbery case

Donald S. Boyce, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, on Monday, March 13, announced that a superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in Benton in the case regarding the May 2014 attempted robbery of the First National Bank in Cairo.

Boyce announced in a news release that a seven count superseding indictment was returned against James Nathaniel Watts, 32, of Cairo, Otha D. Watkins, III, 33, of Cairo, and Sharita S. Tipler, 30, of Ullin.

Count 1 charges Watts with attempted armed bank robbery resulting in death. 

The indictment alleged that during the commission of his attempted robbery of the First National Bank in Cairo on May 15, 2014, Watts killed Anita Grace and Nita Smith, and critically injured a third bank employee.

Count 2 charges that on May 15, 2014, Watts was a convicted felon in possession of a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol which had previously traveled in interstate commerce.

Count 3 charges that on May 15, 2014, Watkins did aid and abet James Nathaniel Watts, in the attempted armed bank robbery which resulted in the deaths of Anita Grace and Nita Smith (Count 1 above).

Count 4 charges that on May 16, 2014, in Alexander County, IL, Watkins did knowingly and willfully make a materially false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the United States, by making false statements to a special agent of the FBI.

Count 5 charges that from on or about May 4, 2014, to on or about May 17, 2014, in Alexander County, Watkins was a convicted felon who knowingly possessed a Ruger 9 mm pistol which had previously traveled in interstate commerce.

Count 6 charges that on or about May 12, 2014, in Alexander County, Watkins did conspire and agree with James Nathaniel Watts, and others known and unknown to the grand jury, to commit robbery, which robbery would obstruct, delay, and affect interstate commerce, in that they agreed to take United States currency belonging to McDonalds restaurant, in Charleston, Mo., from employees of the McDonald’s restaurant, in their presence and against their will by means of actual and threatened force, violence and fear of injury to their person, by brandishing a firearm.

Count 7 charges that from on or about May 15, 2014, to on or about May 17, 2014, in Alexander County, Tipler did knowingly dispose of a firearm (transferred a firearm), a Ruger 9 mm pistol, to Otha Don Watkins III, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that Otha Don Watkins III, was a convicted felon.

With respect to Count 1, the possible penalties are death or a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the news release stated.

With respect to Count 2, the possible penalties are up to 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release to follow any term of incarceration imposed.

With respect to Count 3, the possible penalties are death or a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

With respect to Count 4, the possible penalties are up to 5 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release to follow any term of incarceration imposed. 

With respect to Count 5, the possible penalties are up to 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release to follow any term of incarceration imposed. 

With respect to Count 6, the possible penalties are up to 20 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 5 years of supervised release to follow any term of incarceration imposed. 

With respect to Count 7, the possible penalties are up to 10 years of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of supervised release to follow any term of incarceration imposed.

Watts has been in custody since May 15, 2014.

Watkins is in custody and has an initial appearance set for March 21, in the United States Courthouse in Benton.

Tipler was arrested and had an initial appearance on March 13, 2017.

Tipler is in custody and has a bond hearing scheduled for March 14 at the United States Courthouse in Benton.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys James M. Cutchin, George A. Norwood, and Jeffrey A. Zick.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Illinois State Police and numerous other law enforcement agencies.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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