ALBANY — Flanked by brick, single-family homes, the 31000 block of Old Baton Rouge Highway features sculpted shrubs, new-model cars in the driveways and — on Wednesday afternoon — the shooting death of a convicted murderer by a Livingston Parish deputy.
Deputies were called to the area around 3 p.m. for an attempted suicide by firearm, the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office has said. When they arrived, they found Freddie W. LeBlanc, 48, who was armed and refused several commands to drop his weapon. When he turned it on law enforcement, he was shot and killed.
In one of the houses in the 31000 block lives a man who refused to give his name but identified himself as LeBlanc’s brother.
LeBlanc lived nearby, he said, gesturing to wooded land near his own home and behind Hillside Baptist Church. Through the trees leaned a collection of trailers and outbuildings, a few collapsing or being claimed by kudzu.
The brother declined to discuss specifics of what happened Wednesday afternoon. He said he did not know LeBlanc to be suicidal, but he had spoken of hurting himself that day. The brother’s son tried to talk him down, but LeBlanc “wasn’t having it,” the brother said.
He said he was the one who dialed 911.
The Sheriff’s Office did not release any new information on the case Thursday, and when asked, spokeswoman Lori Steele did not reveal the name of the deputy who shot LeBlanc, a description of his wounds or whether he said anything to responding law enforcement. The case remains under investigation by the parish and State Police.
LeBlanc had a rap sheet dating back to the late 1980s, when he was picked up for crimes including burglary and possession of stolen goods, according to Livingston Parish court records. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to several years.
He was accused in the 1996 slaying of 51-year-old Samual Winborn, a Times-Picayune carrier who was stabbed five times.
The case was unsolved for six years, until investigators, citing new sources of information, arrested LeBlanc for the crime.
LeBlanc was prepared to fight the second-degree murder charge, his former attorney, Arden Wells, said Thursday.
In 2002, a trial was planned and a jury selected, but when LeBlanc saw a man with whom he had been imprisoned in court, he told Wells he wanted to make a deal, the lawyer said. LeBlanc pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Nov. 20 of that year and was sentenced to 20 years.
Wells said he believes Winborn came across LeBlanc committing a burglary while delivering newspapers. To protect himself, LeBlanc abducted and killed the man, then confessed to another inmate, Wells conjectured.
When told LeBlanc had been killed, Wells responded: “That’s the best thing that could have happened. ... Of all the clients I had, that’s the only one I was afraid of. ... He looked like a big, tall monster.”
But LeBlanc’s conviction twisted and turned several more times.
In 2005, three years after he pleaded, 21st Judicial District Judge Wayne Ray Chutz reversed the conviction, said Assistant District Attorney Patricia Amos, though she was unsure why.
Court documents state “any prior motion or dates that were given to Mr. LeBlanc ... be deemed moot.”
The case was sent to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which reinstated the previous conviction.
Though his sentence could have landed LeBlanc in prison until 2022, he qualified for good time credit and was released April 9, 2012, said Louisiana Department of Corrections Communications Director Pam Laborde. He was to have remained under supervision for eight more years.