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Leesburg man sentenced for beating, robbing 97-year-old WWII veteran at his home

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — A Leesburg man is headed to prison for the 2019 robbery and beating of a 97-year-old World War II veteran at his own front door.

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A Lake County jury convicted 32-year-old Kevin Leeks Tuesday of burglary with a battery. He was sentenced Thursday to life in prison under Florida’s Prison Release Reoffender law.

The investigation began back on July 11, 2019, when Lake County deputies responded to a home on County Road 48 in Okahumpka for a report of a home invasion and robbery.

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The 97-year-old victim had just gone to a nearby convenience store on his lawn mower to buy groceries.

Upon returning home, the victim went to close his front door but was met by Leeks, armed with a gun.

Investigators said they believed Leeks then struck the victim, knocking him out, as family members later found the veteran unconscious, suffering from head injuries, and missing his wallet.

As part of their investigation, detectives collected a “Black and Mild” cigarillo tip from the crime scene that appeared to be new.

Investigators also found surveillance video from the convenience store the victim visited, showing him paying for his groceries with several hundred dollars in cash visible in his wallet.

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Leeks can be seen in the same store buying a Black and mild cigarillo and leaving the store within minutes of the victim.

When confronted with the video, Leeks, who was already in the Lake County jail, admitted it was him in the image but declined to answer questions about the robbery without a lawyer.

Deputies noted that in a call Leeks later made from jail, the person he’s talking to can be heard saying, “We gotta take advantage of these veterans...”

Investigators eventually matched a DNA sample from Leeks with the DNA found on the cigarillo at the crime scene and on the victim’s pants.

The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force later arrested Leeks at a hotel in Leesburg.

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“The defendant’s life sentence reflects the severity of his crime and his status as a prison release re-offender, highlighting the justice system’s dedication to protecting vulnerable members of our community,” Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Gladson said in a statement announcing the sentence.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Steve Miller.

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