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A Louisiana man has been found guilty of murder in the first of a string of shootings he’s accused of carrying out in East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana parishes in 2017.
Ryan Sharpe, who was accused of murdering Brad Defranceschi two years ago, was convicted on Friday. Sharpe claimed that Defranceschi and his other murder victims were targets he had selected, shot and killed while trying to fill the hunting “tags” supposedly issued to him by the government, according to the Advocate.
During the trial, the man’s wife, Kaylene Defranceschi, told jurors she heard three gunshots and then helplessly watched her husband die in her arms.
“It's very emotional, especially when they played the 911 call today, as he lay there dying,” Westly Smith, a family friend said, according to WBRZ-TV.
The man’s attorneys claimed their client was mentally disturbed, but psychological experts testified that Sharpe didn’t display any indication he was insane, according to WBRZ.
Sharpe, 38, told investigators he was entrenched in a “big” government “operation,” which had designated him hunting “tags” to carry out the killing spree, the Advocate reported.
“I shot him, yes sir,” Sharpe said, openly admitting to a police detective during a video interview played in court during his trial.
Prior to the alleged killing spree, Sharpe’s friends said the man began spinning “far fetched” tales, neglected his business and descended into full-fledged paranoia.
“We knew something was wrong,” said William Russel, a longtime acquaintance of Sharpe, according to the Advocate. “We didn't know what to do or how to fix it.”
However, prosecutor Samuel C. D'Aquilla, said Sharpe, a former plumber, was putting on a show in trying to persuade the jury he was insane.
“He knew it would exempt him from criminal responsibility,” D'Aquilla said, according to the Advocate. “He had nothing wrong with him.”
Friends of the Defranceschis didn’t buy Sharpe’s insanity plea — or his conspiracy story.
“If he was truly insane, then he needs treatment, then he needs to go to jail for life,” Gayden Smith, another family friend, told the television station. “That 's my personal opinion.”
The prosecution made their closing arguments on Thursday. Smith faces a life sentence, WBRZ-TV reported.
Sharpe is also accused of murdering Thomas Bass and Carroll Breeden Sr., a former East Baton Rouge parks and recreation commissioner, in September 2017.
“We're all kind of in this together now,” Breeden’s son, Buzz, told the Advocate.
Officials said Sharpe had also tried to kill Buck Hornsby, who was allegedly wounded, but survived Sharpe’s attack. Sharpe is scheduled to head to trial in March for that case.
“It’s just one step closer. It’s been 736 days we’ve had this anger, been waiting for this day,” the woman’s daughter, Marcie Breeden Flotte, told the Advocate. “We’re not stopping.”
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