'Barney' Creator's Son Patrick Leach Faces Attempted Murder

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 12:00 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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The son of "Barney & Friends" creator Sheryl Leach pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted murder charges stemming from a trespassing dispute in January that ended in the shooting of his neighbor.

Patrick Kearns Leach, the 27-year-old Malibu man who inspired his mother to create the lovable purple dinosaur Barney for a PBS children's show in 1987, was arraigned in Van Nuys Superior Court on charges of assault and attempted murder, the Malibu Times reported.

Leach was arrested Jan. 9 after his neighbor, 49-year-old Eric Shanks, was shot during a dispute police characterized as a "trespassing issue," the Times reported.

Shanks reportedly called 911, and emergency personnel responded and found him sitting in his driveway with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the chest. Leach, the suspected assailant, was apprehended shortly after leaving the scene in a black SUV.

"Our deputies did a fantastic job apprehending this dangerous suspect," Lt. Matthew Squire of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's Station told the Times. "There was no vehicular pursuit and the suspect exhibited no threatening behavior while being taken into custody."

After being detained, Leach posted $1 million bail and left the jail on the day of the incident.

"He comes from big money, so he was able to post that kind of bail the same day he was arrested," Squire said. "But once he leaves the station, it's out of our hands."

A preliminary hearing for Leach has been scheduled for March 18. If convicted on both the assault and attempted murder charges, Leach could face a maximum of life in prison with the possibility of parole, the Times said.

Sheryl Leach was inspired to create Barney because of her son's love of dinosaurs, according to reports. She resides in Greenwich, Conn.

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