Alexandria man pleads not guilty to new charges in 2020 bombing

A man arrested after the 2020 bombing outside an Alexandria payday loan business has again been indicted on federal charges.

Daniel Dewayne Aikens pleaded not guilty Thursday via Zoom to a second federal grand jury indictment on eight counts.

Aikens has been in custody since his arrest on January 6, 2020, four days after an explosion outside the PayDay Today site on MacArthur Drive. He will remain in custody until his trial, which online court records show is still scheduled for November 14.

He now faces three counts of making a destructive device, three counts of possessing a destructive device in violation of the National Firearms Act, one count of using a explosive to commit a federal felony and one count of transmitting maliciously false information.

A man arrested after the 2020 bombing outside an Alexandria payday loan business has again been indicted on federal charges.

The last indictment replaces another filed against Aikens in November 2021.

An indictment does not presume guilt or innocence, but indicates that the grand jury felt that prosecutors presented enough evidence to warrant a trial on the charge.

Aikens, 40, is a former schoolteacher and member of the Louisiana National Guard who is also a suspect in the 2017 death of a Dry Prong man, Keelien Darquis Lewis, 29, who worked for his maintenance company. lawns.

It was the joint federal, state and local investigation into the bombing that led to the issuance of a second degree murder warrant for Aikens in Lewis’s death. Officials had said he was a suspect almost immediately, but Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain said investigators didn’t have enough to get a warrant until the bombing case. .

Grant Parish District Attorney Jay Lemoine said Friday that since Aikens is still in federal custody, he has yet to be arrested on the second-degree murder warrant.

According to testimony at a January 17, 2020 probable cause hearing in the explosion case, a man called the payday loan company’s landline and told the employee alone that his grand -mother had left her keys in the building. Somehow the conversation shifted to cell phones as the employee searched the building and parking lot for keys.

As the employee returned to the building, a pipe bomb hidden in a trash can in a nearby building exploded. The caller told him he had caused the explosion and demanded $10,000, according to testimony.

The woman ran to a nearby convenience store and the police were called.

She described the incident in a Facebook post later that night, saying she had been hit in the back by debris and the caller knew details about her and her family.

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Investigators were looking for a white Jeep Cherokee they believed to be linked to the case. Aikens was arrested when the Jeep was spotted and stopped by Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Deputies on a service road off MacArthur Drive.

Federal investigators had already found the Jeep outside Aikens’ home on Tennessee Avenue earlier in the day and had it under surveillance, according to testimony from FBI Special Agent Jeffery Goins. He said there was so much going on that word about the surveillance didn’t reach all law enforcement in time.

Family members of Keelien Darquis Lewis stand next to Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain during a news conference in August 2020 as he announces a warrant for second degree murder has been issued in the death of the 29-year-old Dry Prong man in 2017. Investigators believe Daniel Dewayne Aikens killed Lewis in an attempt to collect a $250,000 life insurance policy.

Family members of Keelien Darquis Lewis stand next to Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain during a news conference in August 2020 as he announces a warrant for second degree murder has been issued in the death of the 29-year-old Dry Prong man in 2017. Investigators believe Daniel Dewayne Aikens killed Lewis in an attempt to collect a $250,000 life insurance policy.

“It was not anticipated by federal investigators,” Goins said of the traffic stop. “We were actually hoping to see where it was going.”

Investigators spent much of the next day searching Aikens’ home and going door to door on his street, talking to neighbors.

Testimony during that hearing also alleged that another bombing was carried out by Aikens at a Jackson Street convenience store on December 20, 2019. Goins said a phone allegedly purchased by Aikens from a Horseshoe Drive store Dollar General was linked to both incidents.

This article originally appeared on Alexandria Town Talk: Alexandria man faces new federal charges in 2020 bombing

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