Robbery Victim

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2009


Robbery victim expresses sadness for parolee now back in prison

By Billy Davis

A state prisoner who robbed a convenience store clerk last May, putting a handgun to her head just two months after his probationary release, has pleaded guilty to an armed robbery charge.

Ted Dwayne Cauthen, 28, agreed to a plea offer Tuesday as jurors were preparing to hear the state’s first witness, robbery victim Nikki Beard.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Cauthen’s circuit court trial was set to begin at 2 p.m., following a lunch break, at the county courthouse in Batesville. He faced a maximum of 25 years in prison.

As part of the plea agreement, Cauthen will serve only five years for the armed robbery. But he faces a much stiffer penalty from the state of Mississippi: he now returns to Parchman to serve the remainder of the 30-year sentence he received for shooting a Batesville police officer in 1996.

 Following Cauthen’s arrest, Judge Andrew C. Baker revoked the prisoner’s parole, meaning he will now serve the 17 years that remained from his sentence, which had been handed down by Baker.

“The bottom line is that he’s going back to prison for 22 years,” Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale said this week.

On Memorial Day, Cauthen robbed Beard as she dropped off a co-worker at Still Trailer Park, located in west Batesville.

Police said he took the deposit bag for Crowson’s Grocery, where Beard works for her family.

Two hours after the robbery, Batesville police found Cauthen in a car parked nearby. He was arrested without incident.

 Beard, 20, recalled the robbery this week as she read from her statement to police. Cauthen was standing on a curb at the trailer park when he ran up to Beard’s truck, Beard told police. At first he stood in front of the vehicle to block her, then he moved to the driver’s door and stuck the pistol to her head.

Beard recognized Cauthen as a customer of the store. “I said, ‘Ted, why are you doing this?’ And he just said, ‘Give me your money.’”

After talking with Cauthen’s family members, Beard said she feels sorry for him.

“They said he wanted to go back to jail,” she said.

The robbery victim was also advised by authorities that Cauthen, if his trial went forward, faced a life sentence because he was being tried as a habitual offender.

“I was pleased with (the plea),” she said. “Everybody deserves another chance.”

When Cauthen committed the armed robbery, he had winnowed down 12 years of a 13-year sentence for shooting former patrolman Jimmy Anthony. The parolee had been released on March 25, 2008.

Cauthen was 15 years old on March 14, 1996, when he shot Anthony late at night on Patton Lane.

Anthony was participating in a traffic stop when Cauthen, who was a bystander to the stop, fired a single shot. The bullet ripped through the officer’s organs and severed an artery.

Don Province, now Batesville’s deputy chief of police, was a BPD lieutenant when he joined in the traffic stop. Three males – none of them Cauthen – had fled from police, and officers were searching the car.

Anthony was taking the car’s title to his patrol car when the shot rang out, Province recalled.

“I handed the title of the vehicle to Jimmy…and when he was walking back, I heard the shot,” Province said.

The Panolian reported at the time that Anthony, fighting for his life, turned 28 in the intensive care unit at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford.

“I died twice that night on the operating table,” Anthony, who is now 40, said this week.

Anthony said he has been through “rough times” since his injuries forced him into an early retirement in 1998. He has undergone 13 surgeries from complications of the bullet wound, but he said his biggest struggle has been dealing with losing his job as a police officer.

“I loved my job,” Anthony said. “That’s what he took away from me, more than anything else, was my career as a police officer.”

But Anthony said he, too, felt sorry for Cauthen.

“He had a bad family life. He didn’t have a chance,” Anthony said.

Cauthen entered the state prison system on November 5, 1996. He was then 16. A state law passed a year earlier had allowed for him to be tried as an adult.