Clinton — Suspected serial killer Ryan Sharpe, who's been accused of a string of four shootings within a 25-mile radius, pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to charges for the first two shootings, the July fatal shooting of Tommy Bass, 62, and the September shooting of 47-year-old Buck Hornsby, who survived.
For his first in-person court appearance since his October arrest, officials brought Sharpe, 36, to Clinton in an East Feliciana Sheriff’s vehicle, with both his ankles and wrists constrained. He wore an orange jumpsuit and had a new goatee.
Sharpe listened to his arraignment of second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges in the Bass and Hornsby cases with no noticeable reaction or change of expression.
State District Court Judge William Carmichael set Sharpe's next hearing for Jan. 9, which will include his second arraignment for the first-degree murder charge in the October slaying of 48-year-old Brad DeFranceschi, as well as a hearing on Sharpe's eligibility for public defense. Carmichael will determine then if Sharpe has enough funds to hire his own attorney.
Sharpe was represented Tuesday by 20th Judicial District Defender Rhonda Covington. She declined to comment Tuesday on behalf of Sharpe.
Sharpe was indicted Nov. 13 by an East Feliciana grand jury on first-degree murder, second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the three shootings that occurred in that parish over four months.
He is being held without bail in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a separate count of first-degree murder in the fatal drive-by shooting of Carroll Breeden, 66, in Pride, right over the parish line. Sharpe has not been charged in that incident.
Sharpe's family, including his father, Bill Sharpe, were present in court for Tuesday's hearing. Ryan Sharpe made no obvious glances or attempts to communicate with his family Tuesday morning.
According to court records signed by both Bill and Ryan Sharpe, Bill Sharpe became the power of attorney for Ryan Sharpe on Oct. 17, six days after he was arrested in the four shootings. Bill Sharpe now has the authorization to act on behalf of his son's financial and legal affairs, including his bank accounts and property.
Bill Sharpe declined to comment after the hearing.
The Sharpe family sat together in the courtroom surrounded by the families of the victims.
D’Ann Breeden, the wife of Carroll Breeden, sat in the front of the courtroom, the Sharpes behind her, more Breeden relatives behind them and farthest back Buck Hornsby sat alone.
The Breeden family also declined to comment after the hearing. The case in Carroll Breeden's slaying will be handled in district court East Baton Rouge Parish.
It was not immediately clear if anyone from the Bass or DeFranceschi family attended Tuesday's hearing in East Feliciana, but Hornsby said some of Bass’ good friends were there.
“I just really wanted to look at him,” Hornsby said of Sharpe after the hearing. “Today I just really wanted to look at him, process everything.”
Hornsby said he worries the legal process could take a long time, even years, to bring him and the other families justice, but he said he's accepted that's how it needs to happen.
“I do believe justice will be served,” Hornsby said. “I don’t hate the guy, but I hope, like the Bible says, whatever you reap, you sow. … God’s in control.”
Hornsby said he was glad he had the chance Tuesday to meet D’Ann Breeden.
“It was good to meet her and talk to her,” Hornsby said. “I told her she was in my prayers.”
Sharpe was charged in East Feliciana with second-degree murder in the July 8 shooting death of Bass, who was killed outside his house on La. 960.
The attempted first-degree murder charge also filed in that parish was brought in the Sept. 12 non-fatal shooting of Hornsby, who was struck by dozens of shotgun pellets in front of his residence, which is not far from Bass' home.
Sharpe was also arrested in the Sept. 19 drive-by shooting of Breeden, who was out spraying weeds in his front yard when he was fatally attacked.
Sharpe was charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 9 slaying of DeFranceschi, who was shot and killed outside his house near the side of La. 63. A neighbor said DeFranceschi had been in his front yard trimming weeds before the shooting.
Hornsby said five shotgun pellets have come out of his body since the shooting that sprayed him shotgun pellets while he was exercising on his property's edge. He said his right knee often swells because there are about seven pellets still lodged there. There have been nights with nightmares about the shooting, about being approached by Sharpe, Hornsby said, but overall, he's grateful.
“This could be my family," Hornsby said, looking at the Breedens after Tuesday's hearing. "It could be a whole different situation. … I’m the lone survivor. I’m really thankful. Every day is a good day."