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Mugshot of Sedrick Conerly

An Orleans Parish judge on Tuesday reduced bail for a man accused in a fatal stabbing in April that happened near a bar on the edge of the French Quarter.

But Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell found probable cause to keep Sedrick Conerly, 25, of Hammond, jailed on one count of second-degree murder, despite suggestions by Conerly’s defense attorney that he acted in self-defense.

“It’s clear that the investigation is not complete,” the attorney, Craig Mordock, said after a preliminary hearing. “There was a rush to judgment to put a warrant out and arrest Mr. Conerly.”

The stabbing happened after 4 a.m. April 9 on North Rampart Street, near the Society Page bar on Toulouse Street. Police said Conerly “sucker-punched” the victim, 27-year-old Geoffrey Rabsatt, during a fight that broke out inside the bar.

After regaining consciousness, Rabsatt left the bar but returned with a friend “in an effort to find out what (Conerly’s) problem was,” said Detective DeCynda Chambers, of the New Orleans Police Department. Conerly then brandished a “jagged-edged object” and plunged it into Rabsatt’s chest, the detective said.

Chambers said she did not know the length of the blade, which was not recovered, but she said it was long enough “to go behind (Rabsatt’s) heart.”

Rabsatt succumbed to his injuries less than three weeks later. Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, the Orleans Parish coroner, attributed the death to complications from a stab wound.

Mordock suggested Rabsatt was the aggressor in the second incident and that he had been “steamed over being sucker-punched.”

“Obviously, it was heated,” the defense attorney told the judge, suggesting a lesser charger of aggravated battery would be more appropriate. The authorities, he added, have not demonstrated his client had a “specific intent to kill” Rabsatt.

Assistant District Attorney Abigail MacDonald disagreed, saying eyewitness testimony supported a second-degree murder charge. Prosecutors referred to statements provided by two unnamed witnesses.

“That doesn’t give anybody the right to stab somebody in the chest,” MacDonald said of Rabsatt returning to the bar to confront Conerly.

Cantrell found probable cause to keep Conerly behind bars but lowered his bail from $500,000 to $350,000.

Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.