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Leesburg man sentenced to life in prison for attack on 97-year-old World War II veteran

A Leesburg man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday following being found guilty of battering a 97-year-old World War II veteran in 2019.

Kevin Eugene Leeks Jr.
Kevin Eugene Leeks Jr.

The Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that 32-year-old Kevin Eugene Leeks Jr. had been found guilty of burglary with a battery and was sentenced to life in prison under Florida’s Prison Releasee Reoffender law. Jurors found Leeks guilty in relation to his arrest for the brutal battery of the victim. 

Back in July 2019, the elderly veteran had driven his lawnmower to a convenience store in the Okahumpka area to purchase groceries. Upon returning home, he was confronted at his front door by Leeks, who was armed with a green gun. The victim did not get to say anything other than “no, no, no…” before authorities believed he was struck and knocked unconscious, according to the affidavit of probable cause. 

Family members later discovered the veteran still unconscious, suffering from head injuries, and his wallet containing about $400 missing from his pant pocket. Authorities were contacted, and the victim was transported to the hospital for treatment. 

Detectives with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office canvassed the crime scene for evidence, during which they discovered a Black & Mild cigarillo tip nearby. During their investigative efforts, officials collected security footage from the convenience store which showed Leeks purchasing a Black & Mild cigarillo shortly after the victim’s transaction. He could also be seen driving a dark 2016 Chevy that drove down the same path as the victim later in the video, the affidavit said. 

Additionally, a detective identified Leeks using the surveillance footage and a separate LCSO case. He went to Lake County Jail and spoke with Leeks, showing him a picture from the video. Leeks admitted it was him in the image but declined to answer any questions without council. In a jail call from Leeks, the person he spoke with stated, “We gotta’ take advantage of these veterans…,” the affidavit said. 

This evidence, along with DNA samples collected from the scene and the victim’s clothing, were submitted for testing by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. FDLE officials were able to conclusively link Leeks to the crime based on the DNA evidence. The affidavit noted that the DNA profile from the cigarette was “700 billion times more likely” to match with Leeks than an unrelated individual. 

Leeks was later apprehended in Feb. 2020 by the United States Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force at a hotel in Leesburg to initially be held on $79,000 bond and subsequently charged in this case. 

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

This case was prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Steve Miller. 

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