Jury selection begins Monday for man accused of setting off explosion outside loan office

Daniel Aikens faces eight federal counts related to Jan. 2, 2020 incident
Jury selection for a trial for Daniel Aikens is set to begin Monday, Nov. 14 in the Alexandria federal courthouse.
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 10:33 AM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Jury selection for a trial for Daniel Aikens, 40, the Alexandria man who was arrested after a Jan. 2, 2020 explosion outside of PayDay Today on MacArthur Drive, is set to begin Monday, Nov. 14 in the Alexandria federal courthouse.

Aikens pleaded “not guilty” in October to a series of charges in a second superseding indictment. He faces three counts each of making a destructive device and possession of a destructive device in violation of the National Firearms Act. He also faces one count each of using an explosive to commit a federal felony and conveying malicious false information.

Aikens is accused of demanding $10,000 from the loan company, later exploding a device in a trashcan nearby. He was arrested when his white Jeep Cherokee was spotted by the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office. Investigators had developed Aikens as a suspect by tracing the phone number he called from to a burner phone he purchased the previous month from a Dollar General.

He remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Aikens is represented by federal public defenders Natalie Awad and Wayne Blanchard. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamilla Bynog, Daniel McCoy, and LaDonte Murphy are prosecuting for the government.

Daniel Aikens
Daniel Aikens(RPSO)

In a separate matter, Aikens is also a suspect in the 2017 death of Keelien Lewis, 29 of Dry Prong, who worked for a lawn care business that Aikens operated. According to Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain, the federal arrest of Aikens allowed them to move forward in obtaining a warrant for second-degree murder for Lewis’ death.

According to the Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office, Lewis died of asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning. Lewis worked for Aikens for about three weeks. Investigators said Aikens took out a $250,000 insurance policy on Lewis and that was the motive.

That case has been put on pause since the federal case is moving forward first.

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