Cairo Bank 3

Flowers sit in front of First National Bank in Cairo.

Becky Malkovich, The Southern

BENTON — A Cairo man has pleaded guilty to charges related to his involvement in a 2014 attempted bank robbery in Cairo during which two women were killed.

Otha Don Watkins III, 35, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to assisting James Watts in an attempted armed robbery in Cairo on May, 15, 2014, during which two bank employees were killed, according to Donald S. Boyce, U.S. state's attorney for the Southern District.

During the attempted robbery, bank employees Anita Grace and Nita Jo Smith were killed and a third employee was seriously injured. Watts pleaded guilty in March to attempted bank robbery resulting in a death and in May was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years.

Watkins, who is Watts' stepbrother, is alleged to have driven Watts to the bank, and communicated with Watts on a two-way radio while Watts attempted to rob the bank.

Robbery turns violent; victims ID'd

In addition, Boyce said Watkins also pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI during in the investigation of the attempted bank robbery, possessing a stolen firearm, and conspiring with Watts to commit robberies that interfered with interstate commerce.

The conspiracy included both the attempted robbery of First National Bank in Cairo and a successful May 2014 armed robbery of more than $12,000 from a McDonald’s in Charleston, Missouri.

Watkins is currently incarcerated, serving a 155-month federal sentence related to the armed robbery of another McDonald’s in Cape Girardeau in October 2014. Watkins will be sentenced for the attempted bank robbery case on March 21.

Watkins has been returned to the custody of the U.S. Marshal to await sentencing.

dustin.duncan@thesouthern.com

618-351-5074

on twitter: @zd2000

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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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