Leeper Sentenced to More Than 20 Years in Prison


Tuesday, in Logan County Common Pleas Courtroom, a Bellefontaine man was sentenced to at least 23 years in prison.

On November 30, 2023, a jury convicted Elijah T. “Duke” Leeper of the first-degree felony and other offenses, based on events that occurred in West Liberty on January 1, 2023.

Judge Kevin P. Braig found Leeper to be a repeat violent offender.

Leeper was also convicted by the jury of two counts of felonious assault, as felonies of the second degree.

The trial was bifurcated, as Judge Braig presided over a bench trial without the jury and found Leeper guilty of having weapons under disability, a felony of the third degree, and domestic violence, a felony of the fourth degree.

The victim advised the court that she sustained a traumatic brain injury and required surgery for other injuries from the brutal beating, resulting in both physical and emotional scars and a continued fear for her life.

“The evil within this man’s soul is deadly and should not be allowed to rampage freely in society,” she wrote in her victim impact statement addressed to Judge Braig.

The evidence at trial established that Leeper attacked his former girlfriend at her residence in West Liberty, beat and strangled her twice after she picked him up from Bellefontaine from a party where he had been drinking.

West Liberty Police responded to the residence just before 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day of 2023 and the victim advised Leeper had slammed her head into a door and strangled her to the point of unconsciousness before taking her vehicle and her 9 mm handgun and leaving the scene.

She stated that Leeper told her if she called the police, he would kill her.

The victim was transported to the hospital for treatment of her injuries.

Around 7:35 a.m., West Liberty police located Leeper at the victim’s residence, where the vehicle had been returned and the firearm was recovered.

Leeper was in a severe state of impairment and was treated for alcohol and cocaine intoxication before his incarceration at the Logan County Jail.

At the time of the attack, Leeper was on probation for a felonious assault against a different former girlfriend which also involved strangulation from 2019.

He was sentenced to five years of community control in 2020, entered the West Central Community Based Correctional Facility, was discharged in January of 2021, and charged with domestic violence again.

The 2021 case was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor after Leeper admitted assaulting one of his sisters, who was 17 years old on the date of the offense when officers observed signs of strangulation.

In that case, Leeper served 30 days in jail concurrent with his community control and completed a counseling program for male batterers, from which he was discharged on October 5, 2022.

On Tuesday, Judge Braig revoked Leeper’s community control in the 2019 case and ordered him to serve 3-4.5 years in prison consecutive to the sentence in the 2023 case.

He was sentenced to 11-16.5 years for the attempted murder with a repeat violent offender specification of three years consecutive; one of the felonious assault counts, a second-degree felony, was merged with the attempted murder for sentencing purposes.

On the other count of felonious assault, Judge Braig sentenced Leeper to 8-12 years concurrent with the attempted murder, with a repeat violent offender specification of three years mandatory time consecutive to the other counts.

On the third-degree felony charge of weapons under disability, the sentence was 36 months concurrent time, and the firearm specification was merged with three years for the firearm specification in the fourth-degree felony conviction of domestic violence, for which Judge Braig imposed an 18-month concurrent term.

Altogether, Leeper will serve between 23 and 26.5 years in the custody of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

“The State is pleased with the result,” said Logan County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Stewart. “We commend the work of the officers from the West Liberty Police and investigators from the Logan County Sheriff’s Office and Assistant Prosecutor Nathan Yohey in trying this case.”