Bond set at $2M in Niles killing

NILES — Bond is set at $2 million for the man accused in the early Monday morning fatal shooting outside a bar in Niles.

Robin Luke Caviness Jr., 38, made his first appearance Tuesday in Niles Municipal Court via video arraignment from the Trumbull County Jail on a charge of murder. Because the charge is a felony, an automatic plea of not guilty was entered for Caviness.

He remains in the jail.

Caviness, of Howland, is accused of shooting and killing Clayton L. Bender, 23, of Warren, just before 2 a.m. outside Madden’s Bar & Grill on U.S. Route 422. Police say Caviness fired a half dozen shots into a black Cadillac in the parking lot of the bar, fatally wouding Bender, who was in the back seat.

It’s believed Caviness and three other people took off in a black pickup truck.

Caviness was arrested Monday night after he turned himself into Niles police at the station on East State Street, said Capt. John Marshall.

“The information police had was leading them in a particular direction and the suspect was aware that he was a person of interest,” Marshall said. “He voluntarily surrendered to police to avoid confrontation.”

Police also recovered a handgun, however Marshall could not confirm if it was the weapon used to kill Bender. The gun has been sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for analysis.

Police expect more charges to be filed in the case, but whether those charges will be against Caviness or others present at the shooting still needs to be determined.

The bar’s owner said he closed about 1:15 a.m. after shutting down a get-together of about 20 to 25 people. About 30 minutes later, the owner said he heard an argument in the parking lot and saw three men and a woman in a truck arguing with two men in a Cadillac. A few moments later, one of the people in the truck pulled a gun and fired six shots into the car.

The owner said he did not know Bender was in the backseat until he went to the vehicle after the shooting.

Bender was taken to Trumbull Regional Medical Center, where he later died. His death is the first shooting death in Niles this year.

Caviness is due back in court June 20.