Cairo man to serve 23 years for role in deadly bank robbery

BENTON, Ill. (AP) — A southern Illinois man has been sentenced to 23 years in federal prison in connection with the 2014 attempted robbery of a Cairo bank during which two women were killed.

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reported Wednesday that prosecutors say 35-year-old Otha Don Watkins III of Cairo received the sentence after pleading guilty in January to assisting in the crime among other charges. First National Bank employees Anita Grace and Nita Jo Smith were killed and a third employee was seriously injured.

Watkins’ accomplice, James Watts, pleaded guilty last year to attempted bank robbery resulting in a death and was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years.

Watkins 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.