lady justice 2 16-9

Updated at 3:04 p.m. on March 2, 2015

A 30-year-old man accused of killing a transgender woman during a robbery in South Los Angeles made his first appearance in a downtown courtroom Monday, but did not enter a plea.

Arraignment for Robert James Spells, who is being held without bail, was postponed until March 23 at the request of his public defender.

The public defender also objected to a media request to film the proceedings, saying she didn’t yet have sufficient information on the prosecution’s case against her client to know whether media coverage might disadvantage his case.

The judge did not allow video or still photography.

Spells is charged with the Dec. 3 killing and robbery of 21-year-old Deshawnda Sanchez in the 6100 block of South Wilton Place in the Chesterfield Square area.

The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation of murder during the course of a robbery, along with an allegation that Spells personally discharged a handgun, but prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Spells is additionally charged with one count each of human trafficking of a minor for a sex act, committing a forcible lewd act on a child and lewd act upon a child and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. T

The criminal complaint alleges that those crimes occurred between Feb. 7- 16 and involved an 11-year-old girl.

Spells was arrested last Wednesday afternoon at a relative’s home in Los Angeles in connection with Sanchez’s killing after being identified as a suspect by detectives.

Sanchez called for assistance around 4 a.m. Dec. 3, saying she had been assaulted and robbed. While on the phone, she said the suspect had returned, and shots were then heard. Sanchez died at the scene.

—City News Service

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