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A retrial for suspected Louisiana serial killer Ryan Sharpe has been postponed after his defense has again raised issues about his mental state.
Sharpe, 40, was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2019 for the 2017 death of 48-year-old Brad DeFranceschi, who was shot to death while trimming weeds in his front yard. The Boy Scout leader’s killing was one of three murders that Sharpe is accused of carrying out in 2017 in addition to one attempted murder.
The guilty verdict for DeFranceschi's death, the first murder he was brought to trial for, was voided last year after the U.S. Supreme Court banned non-unanimous jury verdicts, local outlet The Advocate reports.
While the new trial was slated for this month, it has now been moved to January after Sharpe’s lawyer Tommy Damico requested that doctors examine Sharpe’s mental capacity. The lawyer said he wants to make sure his client can understand what is going on in the courtroom.
In a July motion, Damico said that "it is the belief that his condition has deteriorated to such a point as he can no longer assist counsel in defense of this case,” according to The Advocate.
Sharpe’s defense also argued in 2018 he didn’t have the mental capacity to stand trial. He was then sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment until his competency was restored enough for his 2019 trial.
Sharpe has already pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity regarding DeFranceschi’s death in the retrial.
When he was arrested, Sharpe allegedly claimed he killed Defranceschi and two others to meet a hunting “tags” quota issued to him by the government, The Advocate previously reported. He told investigators that he was part of a "big federal operation." Prosecutors have said that confession was all part of a plot to feign insanity.
Sharpe is also charged with second-degree murder for the death of Tommy Bass, 62, who shot to death in the carport of his home, and Carroll Breeden, 66, who was fatally shot while doing yard work in front of his home; he's also been charged withattempted first-degree murder for wounding Buck Hornsby, 47, while exercising in his own yard.
All the shootings occurred within a seven-mile radius of Sharpe's home near Clinton, which is part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area. He faces possible life behind bars without parole if convicted.
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