Opening statements begin in trial for man accused of killing father in front of 3 sons in Riverside

Opening statements started Wednesday in the trial for a man accused of killing a father in front of his three sons.

Sterling Roberts is accused of shooting and killing Robert “Bobby” Caldwell in 2017 as Caldwell was walking out a family counseling session.

Roberts was later arrested in South Carolina after being involved in a shootout with deputies there.

An investigation found that Roberts was the boyfriend of Tawney Caldwell, Robert Caldwell’s ex-wife.

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Roberts now faces a federal murder charge. Federal prosecutors announced they were not seeking the death penalty in this case.

News Center 7 was in court Wednesday when U.S. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Amy Smith presented opening statements. She argued to the jury Robert Caldwell was a problem for Roberts and Tawney Caldwell and that Roberts was there to “fix the problem.”

“Sterling shot Bobby again, and again and again — standing there over him, he fired more than 12 shots,” Smith said in court.

Roberts’ defense attorney, Don Malarcik, argued Wednesday that Roberts was not the person who killed Robert Caldwell.

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“Tawney Caldwell hired, threatened, coerced someone to kill Bobby Caldwell,” Malarcik said. “That person is not Sterling Roberts.”

Malarcik argued that Tawney Caldwell thought Roberts was “either too scared or too stupid to kill” Robert Caldwell and had a backup plan.

Malarcik claimed Tawney Caldwell was the mastermind, stating she had just lost a long and bitter custody dispute involving their three son. The prosecution agreed with that claim, but insisted it was Roberts who pulled the trigger.

Both side expect the testimony in this trial to last several days. News Center 7 will continue to follow the case and continue to provide updates in developments as the trial moves forward.