- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

BENTON, Ill. (AP) - Two more people have been charged in connection to a fatal 2014 attempted bank robbery in Illinois.

The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury last week in connection to a robbery at First National Bank in Cairo that left two employees dead, The Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/2nk58Dd ) reported.

The indictment charges Otha Don Watkins III with aiding and abetting an armed bank robbery resulting in death, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, making a false statement and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The other suspect, Sharita S. Tipler, was charged with transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person.

A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for the suspect prosecutors say fatally stabbed the two bank employees. Court records show James N. Watts, 32, initially pleaded not guilty to charges of armed bank robbery resulting in death and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Watts is accused of fatally stabbing 52-year-olds Anita Grace and Nita Smith. A third employee was injured.

The new indictment accuses Watkins of being with Watts on May 15, 2014, the day of the bank robbery. Watkins told authorities after the incident that he hadn’t seen Watts for several days. He faces life without parole or the death penalty if convicted.

Tipler is accused of transferring a gun to Watkins while knowing he was prohibited from possessing a gun due to a prior offense.

Watts’ jury trial is scheduled to start June 19. Federal prosecutors indicated in previous court filings they intended to seek the death penalty if he was convicted.


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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