Man pleads guilty in shooting death

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
A Salisbury man pleaded guilty this week to voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of Rashawn Leon Niblock.
Kier Tirrell Cauthen, 30, of 418 Ludwig Ave., was sentenced Monday to between 3 years, 10 months and five years, five months in prison. He was given credit for time served, which is slightly more than two years.
According to court documents, Cauthen accepted an Alford Plea in lieu of a non-capital first-degree murder charge. An Alford plea means a defendant is treated as guilty whether or not he is in fact guilty.
On Feb. 12, Salisbury Police found Niblock’s body at the rear door of an apartment at 1006 E. Lafayette St. He had gunshot wounds to his right wrist and torso. He died at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
A day after the shooting, authorities arrested Andray Sharodd Charleston, then 27, of Salisbury. About two weeks later, further investigation cleared Charleston and authorities dropped the charges against him. They then arrested Cauthen.
Police justified the first arrest with a report that Charleston’s last known address was listed as 418 Ludwig Ave., the same as Cauthen’s current address.
At the time of his February arrest, Cauthen was not given a bond and two months later was given a $200,000 secured bond, court documents show.
The records say the crime with which Cauthen was charged was inconsistent with his past history. They said he was the primary care provider for his two children and being incarcerated would have been a hardship for the children’s mother.
The report also said Cauthen has a strong support system in the community, the support of his family and a positive employment history.
However, Cauthen was unable to make his bond and remained in jail.
Rowan County District Attorney Bill Kenerly said Tuesday that he explained to Superior Court Judge Christopher Collier of Statesville that Cauthen never admitted to the crime, but two people identified Cauthen.
One of those witnesses was Niblock’s girlfriend, who Kenerly said admitted to disposing of items that were on Niblock before police arrived.
“His girlfriend removed the gun and marijuana and threw it over a fence. It was recovered within an hour or two,” Kenerly said.
Court records said another witness identified the wrong person, Charleston, who was later released.
Kenerly told the court that Cauthen and Niblock were in the midst of a drug deal when the shooting occurred.
“They were in an argument and Cauthen shot him,” Kenerly said.
According to court records, Cauthen has previously been charged with assault on a female, which was reduced to simple assault; driving with a revoked license, which was reduced to failure to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles; possession with the intent to sell and deliver cocaine, which was reduced to felony possession of cocaine; and driving while impaired. He was convicted of driving with a revoked license in 2003 and 2005.
Salisbury attorney Nancy Gaines represented Cauthen.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or