Cairo Bank Robbery Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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By Stephanie Tyrpak

FRANKLIN CO. -- The suspect in a deadly bank robbery in Cairo was back in federal court Tuesday morning. James Nathaniel Watts was indicted by a grand jury last week. The death penalty is now on the table.

Watts is accused of killing two women and injuring a third at First National Bank on May 15. He's been charged with attempted bank robbery resulting in death and a felon in possession of a firearm. 
   
One of the victim's families was sitting on the front row for Tuesday's short hearing. They watched as Watts entered a plea of not guilty.
 
It's been almost a month since Nita Jo Smith was killed. For her family, not a day has gone by where she hasn't been on their minds.
 
"I'm thinking how much I miss her so bad," said Smith's sister, Carol Kachadorian. "I'm gonna be here for every single day of the trial."
 
During the federal arraignment hearing, the judge and attorneys talked about the death penalty for Watts. Part of the grand jury indictment alleges the crime was carried out in an especially heinous, cruel manner that involved torture to the victims. 52-year-old Smith and 52-year-old Anita Grace were both murdered.
     
Federal prosecutors are currently looking over the death penalty option and will need to file a formal document. A second defense attorney may also be added to the case.
 
Smith's family is hoping for the strongest penalty.
 
"We want justice done," said Smith's cousin, Morrissa Clanahan. "And if that means the death penalty, then so be it."
     
Watts has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He will remain behind bars without bond.
     
"James Watts took something precious from us," said Clanahan. "We're gonna be here to support Nita Jo and Anita Grace's memory to the very end."
 
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