Should he ever try to post a $1 million bail, a man accused of torturing a prostitute for months must prove he acquired the money legitimately, a Clark County judge ordered Tuesday.
Calling the allegations against Robert Sharpe III “nothing short of horrific,” District Judge Abbi Silver denied a defense lawyer’s request to lower bail to $350,000.
Public defender Steven Lisk called the $1 million bail “excessive,” though even he acknowledged that the allegations amounted to “one of the worst cases I’ve ever seen.”
Prosecutor Marc Schifalacqua said Sharpe tortured the woman and left her for dead with injuries that required the amputation of a finger and skin grafts.
The 28-year-old Sharpe faces 16 felonies, including kidnapping, sex trafficking and assault, that could send him to prison for life.
Sharpe was arrested last month after an investigation that began in June, when the victim wandered into University Medical Center with broken bones, bruises and infected wounds all over her body.
The 18-year-old woman told police Sharpe persuaded her to become his prostitute after meeting her at a bus stop in March.
She said she was beaten with a metal pole, burned with an iron and waterboarded at the hands of Sharpe during her four-month stay at his North Las Vegas home.
Last month, the teen told a Clark County grand jury that Sharpe started to beat her because of things that happened while he pimped her at Strip casinos. Later he took out his frustration on her for no apparent reason. He would beat her if she didn’t clean the bathroom. He hit her with his hands and whatever he could find in his house: a leather belt, hanger wires, metal poles, a sock filled with oranges.
She said he played Russian roulette with a gun pointed at her chest, pulling the trigger twice, because she almost got stopped by hotel security. Then he took another gun and pistol-whipped her in the back of the head, causing her to bleed.
“I know that he was mad at that point,” she told the grand jury. “I don’t really remember what the reasons were just because it was so often and none of them really made sense anyways. So I just kind of tried to block them out.”
Sometimes he would step away from the beatings for a few minutes to “give me a chance to breathe,” she said. But other times the abuse would last for hours. He burned the top of her right foot nine times with an iron, pouring Tabasco sauce and lime juice in the wound, then he put the iron to her face and singed her nose.
She didn’t go to police because she thought he would kill her or her family. Sharpe knew where her father, aunt and uncle all lived.
“The injuries are so extreme I don’t know how this isn’t a murder case,” Schifalacqua said. “The depravity and the brutality in this case would rival any capital murder case. This was a long-term torture and systematic abuse of this woman.”
The judge likened the allegations to slavery.
The woman told police Sharpe refused to let her leave, and she escaped only after Sharpe tried to sell her to another pimp. But the woman was nearly dead, so Sharpe left her at the Wendy’s restaurant across from the hospital, she said.
Sharpe’s most trusted prostitute, Kariah Heiden, often watched the victim at night to ensure she couldn’t escape, police said.
Heiden is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $250,000 bail.
“I’ve seen horrific cases in the past,” Silver said. “I don’t recall seeing any case quite like this particular case. It’s very disturbing.”
In 2007, a California judge gave Sharpe probation for a charge of inflicting corporal injury on his pregnant girlfriend.
Before Sharpe’s arrest, he had been hired as a telecommunications broker by an independent contractor based in Delaware, his lawyer said. Lisk argued that bail should not be a form of punishment, but to ensure the community’s safety and Sharpe’s appearance in court.
“You’ve seen the worst of the worst cases,” Lisk said. “You’ve seen cases worse than this.”
He pointed out sexual assaults involving death and children.
“Not really,” Silver said. “Not based on these allegations. In fact, I haven’t seen allegations like this, I couldn’t think of ever.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.