LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -A man who tried to rape two women a year ago this month is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison. The judge passed sentence after hearing from Richard Barras and hearing a letter from one of his victims.
Barras’ actions in May of 2018 severely changed the lives of two women he tried to rape. Yet, when Barras addressed the court at sentencing, Calcasieu Chief Felony Prosecutor Jacob Johnson says he still refused to take responsibility.
"He blamed his actions, to the extent that he admitted to anything, on drug abuse but then blamed the system for not getting him help before," said Johnson.
The judge sentenced Barras to two consecutive life sentences after the state filed a habitual offender bill, allowing a stiffer sentence than he might otherwise receive.
“He is in fact a habitual offender," Johnson said. "He’s moved on, moved up rather, from breaking into people’s houses and stealing things to, in this case, trying to rape ladies who were in their seventies.”
Barras faced a more severe charge because the victims were more than 65 years old.
“It's to protect, statutorily protect, people who are perhaps more vulnerable. It applies to both people who are over 65 and children who are under 13,” said Johnson.
Johnson says he tries to keep in mind how permanently such crimes change victims.
“Every time they go outside, for instance, they now worry about a strange man coming up to them," he said. “Every time they go to the grocery store, they’re not able to trust everyone the same way as they did, perhaps in the case of a robbery, before they were robbed.”
The screams of Barras' victims alerted others who intervened.
“But for the heroics of neighbors, but for the heroics of family members of these victims, he would have been successful in raping them," said Johnson.
So, Johnson is gratified Barras will likely never again pose a threat to the community. Barras’ punishment is to be without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.