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Man indicted in Cairo bank deaths

Staff report

BENTON, Ill. - A federal grand jury indicted a Cairo man Tuesday for attempted bank robbery resulting in the death of two Cairo bank employees.

The indictment alleges that during an attempted robbery of the First National Bank in Cairo on May 15, James Nathaniel Watts, 29, killed the bank employees and critically injured a third.

The indictment also charged Watts with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Killed were bank employees Anita Grace, 52 of Olive Branch and Nita Smith, 52 of Wickliffe, Ky.

Watts was previously charged in federal court on May 16 in a criminal complaint with the firearm offense.

An affidavit attached to the complaint alleged that Watts illegally possessed a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol on May 15 and that the firearm was found in his possession following a high-speed chase in Cairo during which Watts was driving the stolen car of one of the victims from the attempted robbery.

Watts was denied bond on that charge and remanded to U.S. marshals to await action by the grand jury.

The indictment returned by the grand jury also contains special findings making Watts eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted of the attempted robbery resulting in death offense.

If convicted of the firearm offense, Watts faces up to an additional 10 years' imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release to follow any term of incarceration imposed.

A date for arraignment on the indictment was not set.

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