Federal judge denies motion for new trial filed by convicted Alexandria bomber

New sentencing date set for Daniel Aikens for March 28 at 11 a.m. in federal courthouse
The sentencing for Daniel Aikens has been rescheduled for March 28, 2023.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 2:57 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The sentencing for Daniel Aikens, 40 of Alexandria, who was convicted on Nov. 18, 2022 of setting off a series of explosions in Alexandria and Monroe between September 2019 and January 2020, has been rescheduled for March 28, 2023.

The sentencing was delayed because Aikens, who got rid of his federal public defenders last week and is now representing himself, wanted to first argue a motion that he filed for a new trial. Some of the reasons for why Aikens wanted to represent himself included:

  • “Counsel for the defendant was informed of the defendant’s abduction by authorities on January 6, 2020, but neglected to address the issue.”
  • “In the spring of 2021, the defendant informed his counsel of evidence planted in his 11 Tennessee home during the execution of a federal search warrant. Counsel for the defendant neglected to address the issue.”
  • “The defendant was adamant that he desired to maintain his rights to a speedy trial, but counsel for the defendant waived his rights in February 2020.”

“This is going to be an unusual hearing because there are allegations in the (new trial) motion that involve attorney-client privilege,” said Judge Dee Drell with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in Louisiana.

Aikens mentioned in open court that some issues pertained to the trial.

“There are issues that arose at trial,” said Aikens.

Judge Drell pointed out that the motion before him didn’t deal with the trial itself and that was a matter for appeal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamilla Bynog pointed out that Aikens’ motion did not “cite any grounds for which a new trial should be granted.” Bynog stated that evidence was not excluded from trial, there were no inflammatory comments made in court, and there were no issues with jury selection.

Judge Drell asked Aikens’ former public defenders, Natalie Awad and Wayne Blanchard, if they wanted to comment on the matter. Blanchard said he consulted with his own counsel who said they had been advised not to comment unless Aikens waived attorney-client privilege or if Judge Drell ordered them to testify - both of which did not happen.

“I’ll be candid with you, I ruled on all the evidentiary offerings in the case,” said Judge Drell, and noted he didn’t believe there were errors with evidence.

Aikens told the Court that he believed people had a “prejudice” against him, and said that he wanted to be able to strike potential jurors himself during the selection process.

Blanchard told the Court that the defense exercised 10 peremptory strikes - that’s when a potential jury is excluded without the need for a reason or explanation.

Judge Drell said he took particular care to make sure the jury selection process proceeded smoothly and without bias and emphasized that he takes the process very seriously.

Ultimately, Aikens’ motion for a new trial was denied.

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