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Police arrested an 18-year-old Baton Rouge man on a first-degree murder count Friday after an investigation into a fatal shooting over a bag of marijuana led authorities to track him down through his Instagram account, officials said.

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office booked Sedrick Franklin into jail two weeks after the shooting that claimed the life of New Orleans resident Nicholas Wesley, 20.

Officials say the shooting took place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 outside an apartment complex in the 10700 block of Industriplex Boulevard. Deputies responded to the scene after a car veered off the roadway and into a tree.  

Deputies say they found Wesley slumped over in the driver's seat of a 2013 four-door silver Chevrolet Impala, dead from a gunshot wound to the torso. 

The affidavit for Franklin's arrest says officers "smelled the distinct odor" of marijuana as they approached the car. When the looked inside, they found a pistol on the floor by Wesley's feet. 

After impounding the car as evidence, detectives found about 8 ounces of marijuana in a black plastic bag that had been ripped off its handles, which officials say indicated a struggle over its contents. The torn-off handles were left on the front passenger floorboard by a counterfeit $100 bill, arrest records say. More counterfeit bills were allegedly found in the center consul.

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The handles were sent to a Louisiana State Police crime lab for DNA analysis.

While they awaited lab results, detectives interviewed Wesley's cousin who was with him right before the shooting. The cousin said Wesley was messaging a user called @sedbadass_ on Instagram and gave screenshots to the police that showed Franklin asking where Wesley was and if he was alone.

Wesley's cousin said he told her to get out of the car and that he'd pick her back up a short time later.

After she got out, she said she saw a Black man get into the passenger side. Minutes later, she said she heard a gunshot.

By the time police found out about the @sedbadass_  Instagram account, they say it had been deleted. But authorities identified Franklin using what information they could glean from the social media profile as well as cross-checking information from law enforcement databases.

Police say they also interviewed Wesley's girlfriend, who told them he was going to pick up someone called "Sed" shortly before a 911 call reported the shooting.

When the lab results came back, police say they matched DNA from the plastic bag to Franklin, who was already in their database for a previous arrest.


Email Caroline Savoie at CSavoie@TheAdvocate.com or follow her on Twitter at @CarolineSavo.