Robert Caviston thought he could get away with murder, the prosecutor argued to the jury Friday in his closing statement.
After deliberating just over an hour, the Richmond County Superior Court jury showed Caviston he didn’t. The jury convicted him of murder and arson in the brutal Nov. 15, 2014, killing of his 92-year-old mother, Agnes Caviston.
In an empty rental home on a bare wood floor, Agnes Caviston’s skull was crushed, her ribs cracked, her arm broken and her sternum fractured. In autopsy photographs presented to the jury this week, the injuries so distorted her face she no longer looked human.
“The only thing she did wrong was loving her son. Trusting the wrong person to care for her,” Assistant District Attorney Ricky Coates told the jury.
Caviston knew he was being evicted from a Grovetown home where he lived with mother. He knew he had to move but he did nothing to prepare. When given the chance to pick up possessions to take to 2717 Wicklow Drive, Caviston chose a propane tank, lighter and lighter fluid, Coates said.
“He knew he was going to do this,” the prosecutor told the jury.
But defense attorney Robert MacGregor argued to the jury in closing that what happened to Caviston’s mother was a tragic accident. Caviston heard his mother scream and in his rush to get to her, Caviston tripped and fell on top of her. Elderly people are fragile, MacGregor said, and their bones break easily. A burning ember caught in his mother’s blankets was ignited by rubbing alcohol Caviston had been using to clean an IV stand, his attorney said.
“It was the worst day of Robert Caviston’s life,” MacGregor said. Caviston’s statements to others that he had killed his mother was a reflection of the grief and guilt he was experiencing. “He killed his mother but he didn’t murder her.”
No, the prosecutor countered. Witnesses described Caviston as calm and cool until he was cuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, Coates countered.
“He thought he could get away with it.” Caviston thought the fire would destroy the evidence, but it didn’t. Left behind for investigators to find was a blood speckled jacket and evidence that before Caviston bashed his mother’s head in, he attempted to strangle her, Coates said.
Judge Michael N. Annis, who presided over the week-long trial, sentenced Caviston to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murder and an additional 20 years for arson.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org