[IMAGE CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 02/12/20]
(Have news tips for LLN?… 352Tips@gmail.com.)
OKAHUMPKA, Florida — The tip of a Black & Mild cigarillo left at the scene of a home invasion and robbery of a 97-year-old World War II veteran led to a suspect’s arrest Wednesday, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
In July 2019, the elderly victim went to a local convenience store to purchase some items, and when he arrived home, he was met at his back door by a suspect armed with a gun, later identified as Kevin Eugene Leeks Jr., 29, said LCSO Lt. John Herrell.
Family members later found the victim unconscious with head injuries and found his wallet was missing. Detectives found the tip of a Black & Mild cigarillo at the scene and collected it for processing, Herrell said. During the course of the investigation, detectives obtained surveillance video from the convenience store where the victim made his purchases; on the video, Leeks is observed buying the same type of cigarillo and leaving within minutes of the victim.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for Leeks’ DNA and the sample was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for testing. FDLE matched Leeks’ DNA to the cigarillo tip and to DNA found on the victim’s pants, Herrell said.
On July 13, 2019, just two days after the home invasion, Leeks was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon by Leesburg Police. According to Lake County Clerk of Court records, that case is still open. It’s unconfirmed whether the gun — a Taurus .380 — is the same gun used in the home invasion, Herrell said. A detective spoke with Leeks while he was in jail on the firearm charge and he admitted it was him in the store’s surveillance video, according to a probable cause affidavit. He refused to answer questions about the home invasion.
Leeks’ was picked up Wednesday at a motel in Leesburg by the U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force. He is charged with home invasion/robbery and theft from a person 65 or older. He is also charged with failure to appear on a prior case where he was charged with driving with a suspended license. He is being held on $79,000 bond.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]