Man gets 12 years in prison for killing sister’s boyfriend in 2020
Feb. 3, 2023 Updated Fri., Feb. 3, 2023 at 8:54 p.m.
Loved ones of slain 48-year-old Taurus Ogletree asked a judge to impose the maximum sentence for Demetrius Cawthorne, with one woman calling Cawthorne a “cold-hearted killer.”
Cawthorne’s family and friends called him a kind person and protector, asking for leniency.
On Friday, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Timothy Fennessy sided with the prosecutor’s recommendation and sentenced Cawthorne, 28, to 12 years in prison for shooting Ogletree multiple times and leaving him on a Spokane River trail in 2020.
“Demetrius left me without my only brother,” Tarlo Ogletree told the court while fighting tears. “He left my mom without her oldest son. He left a daughter. He left many others that loved him and because of that, I think he should get the maximum sentence.”
The sentence was the low end of the standard sentencing range of 12 years to a little more than 20. Cawthorne’s attorney, Nate Poston, argued for a sentence below the range.
On the morning of June 12, 2020, a man walking near the 1600 block of East South Riverton Avenue discovered Taurus Ogletree’s body, according to court documents. Ogletree had at least six bullet wounds, and a pile of broken car window glass was close to his body.
A few hours earlier, around 1:40 a.m., video surveillance showed Cawthorne, Ogletree and Ogletree’s girlfriend who is also Cawthorne’s sister, Rochelle Shyvers, at JK Gas and Grocery on the corner of Nevada Street and Wellesley Avenue, court records say. Cawthorne was wearing a mask and gloves, and put a backpack in the trunk, while Ogletree and Shyvers went into the store.
The three then got into the car and drove to the siblings’ Everett Avenue home, where police believe Cawthorne dropped his sister off and took off in the car with Ogletree.
At 2 a.m., multiple people in the area of where Ogletree was found dead reported hearing three to six gunshots followed by a car leaving the area.
Court documents say Ogletree was in a “tumultuous domestic violence relationship.”
Cawthorne, Shyvers and their sister lived at their mother’s Everett Avenue home. Ogletree had also lived at the home but was kicked out because of drug use and treating Shyvers poorly, according to documents. The couple continued seeing each other despite a domestic violence order barring Ogletree from being near Shyvers.
One week before the murder, Tarlo Ogletree said Taurus Ogletree told him Cawthorne pointed a handgun at Taurus, likely because Cawthorne was angry that Taurus hit Shyvers, documents say.
Poston said Taurus Ogletree’s alleged abuse was not the first time Cawthorne saw his sister injured at the hands of another man.
“He’s seeing Rochelle circle the drain with Taurus,” Poston said.
Cawthorne initially denied killing Ogletree, according to documents. He was arrested Aug. 20, 2020, and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in September 2022.
Cawthorne, standing in red Spokane County Jail inmate clothes, apologized Friday for killing Ogletree.
“I know that there’s nothing that I can say to take back what I’ve done or to comfort the Ogletree family,” Cawthorne said.
Preston McCollam, Spokane County deputy prosecutor, said Cawthorne acted intentionally and that Cawthorne could have driven away instead of shooting Ogletree.
Angeline Hill, Ogletree’s daughter, told the court via Zoom that her father was “everything to a lot of people.”
“I think that you should spend a lot of time behind bars so you can re-evaluate the way you conduct yourself, because he didn’t deserve to die like that,” Hill said.
Joseph Hilborn, Cawthorne’s childhood best friend, said Cawthorne was kind, and that both of them lost their fathers to cancer. He said Cawthorne made a bad choice but owned up to it.
Lisa Marie Ogletree, Ogletree’s ex-wife, said she will never forgive Cawthorne.
“You took the best person I ever had the pleasure of having in my life away from me,” she said.
Cawthorne will be given credit for time served, or nearly 21/2 years. He will serve three years of probation when he is released from prison.
Cawthorne is scheduled Feb. 17 for a plea and sentencing hearing for unlawful firearm possession and tampering with witnesses charges, which are connected to the murder case.
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