No bail ordered for suspect in EBR holdup and slaying

A recording company employee facing an armed robbery charge, an arrest for second-degree murder and a new charge of possessing with intent to distribute a powerful drug was ordered held without bail Thursday.

Dalvin Sewell, 19, of Baker, was found with alprazolam, a depressant commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, in October, court records show. At the time, he had been released on the armed robbery charge on bail of $285,000.

Defense attorney J. Rodney Messina sought Sewell’s release during a bail hearing Thursday before state 19th Judicial District Judge Trudy White.

That request was opposed by East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney Adam J. Haney, who argued Sewell has five pending charges.

“Past performance predicts future results,” Haney said.

Messina noted that Sewell remains unindicted on the murder allegation, which has been pending since February. The victim in that case was Darius Byrd, who was shot and killed in September 2010.

“If they (prosecutors) had a case, it would already be before the grand jury,” Messina argued.

Haney noted that Sewell is scheduled for trial Feb. 4, 2013, on the armed robbery charge. Haney asked that Sewell be held without bond until after that trial.

Messina also presented a witness, Baker minister and counselor G. Ashanti Witherspoon, who spent 27 years in prison for an armed robbery he acknowledged committing.

Witherspoon said he has spent the past 13 years speaking to young, at-risk men about the need to stay away from drugs and a criminal lifestyle.

Witherspoon said he has met with Sewell on several occasions and believes “he would be a good prospect.”

Haney wanted to know whether Sewell should be punished if he is convicted on the felony charges he faces.

“Something needs to be done,” Witherspoon said, before adding, “I feel that everybody deserves a second chance.”

In April, Messina won permission from District Judge Don Johnson for Sewell to travel throughout Louisiana, Texas and California for concerts and recording sessions on behalf of his employer, No Limit Show/Recording/Video/Radio Promotions.

White mentioned those travels at Thursday’s hearing and noted that Sewell abused that trust when he was found with drugs in October.

“Your attorney has done all he could do,” White said of Messina. She told Sewell, “Something hasn’t clicked yet.”

The judge then said she would not be comfortable with granting Sewell his freedom in advance of the February trial on the armed robbery charge.

“You’ll be convicted or you’ll be exonerated,” White told Sewell as she denied his release on bail.