Court of Appeal affirms conviction

Cawthorne serving life sentence in robbery gone wrong

<p class="indent">JENNINGS — An appeals court has affirmed the life sentence of a man convicted in the brutal beating death of an elderly Lake Arthur man in what authorities say was a robbery gone wrong.</p><p class="indent">Roderick Jermaine Cawthorne Jr. was convicted in June 2017 of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice in the death of Charles Raymond Talen, 73.</p><p class="indent">Talen’s body was found by sheriff’s deputies bound and bloody on the floor of his home with blunt-force injuries to the head and neck. Several items including a safe full of gold coins, guns and a vehicle were found missing from the home.</p><p class="indent">Cawthorne and co-defendant Brett “Cowboy” Hebert are accused of killing Talen in his Pom Roy Road home and taking items from the home before setting the victim’s vehicle on fire. Nine others, including Cawthorne’s father and a cousin, were arrested of various crimes including accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice charges in connection with the slaying.</p><p class="indent">Hebert, who testified against Cawthorne, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5 in the 31st Judicial District Court.</p><p class="indent">Two others, Carlos Daniels and Vaughn Robinson, have been sentenced in their roles to move and help conceal items taken from the home.</p><p class="indent">Cawthorne was sentenced to a mandatory life in prison without parole on the seconddegree murder charge and 40 years on the obstruction of justice charge. The sentences are to run consecutively with credit for time served.</p><p class="indent">In an appeal filed in September 2017, Cawthorne and attorney Paula C. Marx of the Louisiana Appellate Project argued that the sentences were too excessive and unconstitutional.</p><p class="indent">They contend the trial court erred when it ordered a then-18-year-old offender to serve excessive consecutive sentences of life in prison without benefits for the second-degree murder conviction and a maximum 40 years at hard labor for the obstruction of justice conviction.</p><p class="indent">Cawthorne claims he qualifies for a lesser sentence because he was only 18 at the time of the offenses, has no criminal history and should have the opportunity to seek parole in the future.</p><p class="indent">The appellate court denied claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.</p><p class="indent">Cawthorne further contends the court failed to make any factual finding that he was competent to stand trial.</p><p class="indent">In May 2015, Cawthorne and his attorney filed a motion for a psychiatric exam in and to change his not guilty plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Cawthorne was found competent to proceed with trial, which the appellate court agreed.</p>””Roderick Jermaine Cawthorne Jr.

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