Lake Arthur man pleads guilty ahead of trial

Charges include obstruction of justice and possession of stolen items

JENNINGS — A Lake Arthur man pleaded guilty Monday to obstruction of justice and possession of stolen items in connection with the 2015 slaying of a Lake Arthur man.

Vaughn Dell Robinson, 40, and his attorneys Jonathan Goins and Christopher LaCour entered the plea before Ad Hoc Judge Durwood Conque just as jury selection was scheduled to begin in 31st Judicial District Court.

Robinson was facing accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, obstruction of justice, possession of stolen things over $1,500 and property damage charges in connection with the murder and robbery of Charles Raymond Talen Sr. 73. Talen was beaten to death in his Pom Roy Road home during a February 2015 robbery that went wrong, authorities said.

In a plea agreement, Robinson plead guilty to the obstruction of justice charges for moving a safe and some guns from one location to his house, then later having the safe destroyed. He was also charged with possession of stolen things for selling five gold coins taken from the victim’s home for $5,900 in Beaumont, Texas.

The accessory after the fact to second-degree murder and criminal damage to property charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement, District Attorney Michael Cassidy said.

Robinson was sentenced to 11 years in prison, with all but nine years suspended and credit for time served.

“He was facing a maximum of 40 years, but we were concerned that the evidence indicated he was involved in the murder after the fact, but we couldn’t prove he was actually involved in the planning or the actual homicide,” Cassidy said.

Talen was found dead on the floor of his home by sheriff’s deputies who had gone to the home for a welfare check after the victim’s vehicle was found abandoned and burning in a remote area in Vermilion Parish.

An autopsy indicated Talen died from multiple injuries caused by blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. 

Roderick Cawthorne Jr., 21, of Youngsville was convicted of second-degree murder in Talen’s death in June 2017 and sentenced to life in prison.

Cawthorne was also sentenced to 40 years in prison on an obstruction of justice charge that included burning the victim’s car, dumping a safe taken from the home and throwing away clothing worn during the crime. The latter sentence will run consecutive with the life in prison sentence.

Cawthorne and co-defendant Brett “Cowboy” Hebert, 28, were both accused of killing Talen. The two were living with Robinson, who is Cawthorne’s uncle, at the time. A date for Hebert’s trial has not been set.

Nine others, including Cawthorne’s father, have been arrested of various crimes including accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice charges in connection with the slaying. A 12th suspect has not been charged.

A second person, Carlos Daniels of Lake Arthur, was sentenced in March for his role in Talen’s death.

Daniels admitted he brought Roderick Cawthrone Jr. and Hebert from Robinson’s home and dropped them off on Pom Roy Road near Talen’s home.

Daniels told authorities the men were prepared to burglarize the home and said he drove the suspects to Lafayette a few days later to try and sell some gold coins taken from the home.

Daniels was sentenced to serve eight years at hard labor with the Department of Corrections, with all but six years suspended and credit for time served.

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Vaughn Dell Robinson pleaded guilty Monday to obstruction of justice and possession of stolen items

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