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UPDATE: Sharps formally charged at arraignment

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Area residents concerned about a possible low bond set when alleged rapist Larry Joe Sharps was arrested Sunday can rest easy. Officials confirm that Sharps will not be let back into the community anytime soon after appearing in Clay Superior Court for his preliminary arraignment Wednesday.

Formally charged as a habitual offender with four felony charges by the Clay County Prosecutor's Office, Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers set Sharps' bond at $250,000 with no 10 percent, and ordered that Sharps have no contact with the victim.

Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger explained to The Brazil Times Thursday how the bond schedule works in general.

"If an offender is arrested while on parole, a bond is established according to what the highest level of charge is," Reberger said. "If a parole violation is also attached, the suspect goes through the legal process of evaluating the parole violation through the department of correction before being able to bond out of jail."

In the matter of Sharps' arrest, he was on parole since being released from his prison sentence in February of this year.

When arrested on Sunday, Sharps' preliminary charges included a B felony rape charge.

In some situations, a B felony charge may have a bond set at $25,000, which explains the initial information that was released, but a bond is not officially set until a judge authorizes one.

According to Reberger's explanation, even if Sharps could pay the newly issued $250,000 no cash bond, he would not be released from police custody pending the evaluation process of his parole violation.

Appearing in court via videoconference, Sharps was formally charged with various felony charges stemming from the alleged sexual assault of a Terre Haute woman Sunday.

The State of Indiana charges that on or about Oct. 28:

• Count 1. Criminal deviate conduct-a class A felony: Sharps did knowingly cause another person to perform or submit to deviate sexual conduct when compelled by force or imminent threat of force while the defendant was armed with a deadly weapon, a knife (punishable by 20-50 years, $10,000),

• Count 2. Rape- class B felony: Sharps did knowingly or intentionally have sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite sex, when such person was compelled by imminent threat of deadly force (punishable by 6-20 years, $10,000),

• Count 3. Criminal confinement-a class C felony: Sharps did knowingly or intentionally confine a person without their consent having been committed by using a vehicle, a truck (punishable 2-8 years, $10,000),

• Count 4. Sexual battery-a class C felony: Sharps did with the intent to arouse or satisfy his sex desire did compel a person to submit to touching by using or threatening the use of deadly force, (punishable 2-8 years, $10,000).

Because of a previous extensive criminal record involving two other sexual attacks, Sharps was also charged as being a habitual offender.

According to Indiana Code 35-50-2-8, the charge allows the prosecution to attempt to prove in court that Sharps is a habitual offender, who is someone with at least two prior unrelated felony convictions proven by the State of Indiana. If proven, the court will have the ability to assess additional punishment based on a person being proven to be a repeat offender. The court can sentence a person to an additional fixed term that is not less than the advisory sentence for the underlying offense, nor more than three times the advisory sentence for the underlying offense.

This case began around 1:45 p.m. Sunday, when the Brazil City Police Department responded to a report by an unidentified female victim in the area of North Sherman Street regarding an "assault complaint."

The victim said she had just escaped from being abducted from her Terre Haute residence by force with a knife, drove to a Brazil residence where she was allegedly sexually the early Sunday morning.

Officials interviewed a witness who was present during most of the incident, confirming much of the victim's statement, and obtained a search warrant for the suspect's residence.

At approximately 5 p.m., Sharps contacted the police department and voluntarily came into the Clay County Justice Center for an interview. Afterwards, he was arrested and booked into jail with a $25,000 bond on a preliminary rape charge while officers continued the investigation.

After establishing a public defender to handle Sharps' case, Superior Court Judge Blaine Akers set a pre-trial date for 1:30 p.m., Feb. 11, 2008, and a jury trial for 1:30 p.m., March 10, 2008.

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