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Judge maintains $1 million bond in attempted murder case, sets April pretrial hearing

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A man who is facing attempted murder charges in connection to a 2019 New London shooting appeared virtually in court Wednesday morning, where a judge ordered that he remain held on a $1 million bond and scheduled his case for a pretrial hearing in April.

Sakye Reels-Felder, 20, of Mashantucket was charged in September with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, illegal discharge of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a minor.

Police allege in an affidavit unsealed in October that at 11:28 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2019, Reels-Felder fired a gun into a second-floor window of an apartment on 3rd Avenue in New London. A bullet traveled through a bedroom where three young girls were sleeping and lodged into the wall of an adjacent bedroom, but no one was injured.

Reels-Felder appeared in court Wednesday morning over video conference, wearing a bright yellow jumpsuit and with a cast on his hand and forearm. His attorney, Kirstin Coffin, said he broke his hand playing basketball.

Coffin moved to reduce Reels-Felder’s bond from $1 million down to $250,000. She said her client was a “local athletic star” who graduated from Ledyard High School and hoped to play for the NBA. He is a lifelong resident of Mashantucket, she said.

Coffin said that although she understood the charges against Reels-Felder are extremely serious, the only evidence against her client was phone calls about the incident made by another man who allegedly orchestrated the crime from prison. She said that in those phone calls Reels-Felder was not speaking in code about the shooting, as police allege, but about working out at the gym.

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen M. Carney asked that the amount of Reels-Felder’s bond be maintained, if not increased.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein denied Coffin’s motion to reduce the bond and ordered it to remain at $1 million. Strackbein told Coffin that she can refile her motion to reduce Reels-Felder’s bond at his next pretrial hearing, which she scheduled for April 9 at 11:30 a.m.

“He’s a good kid and I’ve been doing the best I can for him,” Coffin said after the bond reduction was denied. “He’s an athletic star, he’s not the kind of guy who would get involved in something like that.” 

Detectives say the shooting was ordered by Shaquan Lee-Seales, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for shooting and killing innocent bystander Gilberto Olivencia during a drug dispute in December 2015.

The intended targets were the mother of Lee-Seales' son, Nicole Rivera-Ramos, and her current boyfriend, Demetrius Watley. They lived six doors away from the Londonberry Gardens apartment that was hit.

An arrest warrant affidavit in October indicated that, in a series of calls from the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Lee-Seales ordered the shooting because he was upset that Rivera-Ramos was letting Watley tell Lee-Seales' son he has two fathers, and was not taking the child to visit Lee-Seales more often.

In those calls, Lee-Seales spoke with a woman named Nitasia Sutton and his younger brother. In one call, the brother told Lee-Seales he had instructed Reels-Felder, whom they referred to as "Young boy NBA," to do the shooting.

Lee-Seales' bother, who was a juvenile at the time of the shooting and is now 18, also has been charged. The warrant affidavit indicates he was being held at the Manson Youth Institution on unrelated charges. Police also arrested 19-year-old Kion Wilbur of New London in connection with the shooting.

Sutton, 20, of New London is charged with accessory to attempted murder, attempted first-degree assault and accessory to incite injury to a person or property. She also was being held in lieu of a $1 million bond.

t.hartz@theday.com

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