Augusta man describes for jury how his mother’s brutal demise was really an accident

In a long, elaborate, and detailed account, Robert Caviston told the jury how the death of his 92-year-old mother was an accident.


Caviston, 58, was the last witness called Thursday in Richmond County Superior Court. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and arson.

The jury returns to court Friday to hear final arguments and jury instructions. Jurors will then decide if the brutal death of Agnes Caviston on Nov. 15, 2014, was an accident or murder.

“Everyone wants to put them (mothers) in nursing homes,” Caviston scornfully told the jury. “My mom wanted to live.”

Agnes Caviston was bedridden and suffering from dementia. On the last day of her life an ambulance took her from the foreclosed Grovetown home where she lived with her son to a rental house, 2717 Wicklow Dr.

There was no furniture, said Adam Patterson, who was one of the Capital City Ambulance employees who transported Ms. Caviston to the Wicklow Drive house. It was a very cold day, he remembered, and when they got to the house, Caviston told them to put the elderly woman on the bare floor. He wouldn’t have left her but Caviston insisted he had movers coming with their furniture, Patterson testified.

No movers came. Caviston testified that he borrowed a home health care aide’s vehicle to gather as many possessions as possible from the Grovetown house.

When he got back to Wicklow Drive, his mother’s aide warned him the fire in the fireplace was dangerous without a screen. He told the jury he moved his mother from the den to the living room with dozens of blankets. A spark from the fire must have lodged into a blanket because he soon heard his mother scream, Caviston said.

He said he rushed to the living room with the IV stand tucked upside down in the crook of his arm and an open bottle of rubbing alcohol in hand he’d been using to clean the stand in the kitchen.

“I tripped on something. I went flying through the air and landed on my mom with a thud,” Caviston said.

To his horror, the IV stand hit his mother in her face during his fall, and as he tried repeatedly to get to his feet, the stand hit her several more times, he testified. When praying didn’t save her, he put a Bible next to her, and left books with her because she had loved to hear him read, he told the jury. He ended up naked and lying in the neighbor’s yard because he took his clothes off when they caught fire and he laid down to try to get relief for his injured neck, Caviston said.

“People just don’t understand,” he testified.

Witnesses testified this week that Caviston was naked and nonchalant as he repeatedly said he had killed his mother and set the house on fire. His mother was found under a burn pile that included clothing and books. Her head was crushed and brain matter was leaking on the floor, witnesses testified.

Assistant District Attorney Ricky Coates had only one question for Caviston on cross-examination – had he written a book? He wrote three books, one titled The Philosophy of Murder.

Caviston told the jury that it was really a love story. Coates, who had wanted to introduce portions of the book as evidence but did not, described the book as a story about a serial killer who stalks, rapes and kills women.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or



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