Cawthorne Jr. guilty as charged in Lake Arthur murder - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Cawthorne Jr. guilty as charged in Lake Arthur murder


A jury found Roderick Cawthorne Jr. guilty as charged in the beating death of a Lake Arthur man in 2015.

Cawthorne was whisked away to a neighboring jail soon after the jury found him guilty of second-degree murder and of obstruction of justice for trying to cover it up.

Jeff Davis special prosecutor Rick Bryant says it's been an emotional time for the family of the victim, 73-year-old Charles Raymond Talen Sr.

"I think it was all his idea," Bryant said of Cawthorne. "I think he got most of the money in the case. I think his statement, even though he denied everything, showed that he was cold, calloused, arrogant - just a vicious person, and I think the fact that he was 18 is irrelevant. He's a bad guy and got what he deserved."

Cawthorne and another man made unauthorized entry into Talen's Lake Arthur home. Talen was beaten to death and robbed of an estimated $100,000 in gold coins and other items.  

Co-defendant Brett Hebert, charged with murder, confessed to his part in the crime but denied hurting Talen.

Defense attorney Michael McHale argued there was reasonable doubt, but respects the jury's decision.

"There's other co-defendants in this case who, clearly if you listen to the evidence, were a lot more responsible for things that were happening than what they were saying or what the state was trying to imply," McHale said.

Cawthorne's family sobbed loudly in the courtroom after learning the verdict. Bryant says it's sad for everyone.

"It's hard to hear, but they did nothing wrong," Bryant said. "It was their son who brought all of us here today. He caused all the misery. He caused the misery to the victim's family. He caused the misery to his own family. He created this monster and now he has to pay the consequences."

The jury was polled, which revealed that the verdict on both charges was unanimous. Second-degree murder brings automatic life in prison.

Cawthorne was 18 when the crime occurred. He's to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on Sept. 11. Of the nine other co-defendants, two have been granted immunity for their testimony. There's no word on when Hebert or others may go to trial.

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