NEVADA, Iowa -- A 34-year-old Boone man is heading to prison for killing his friend in 2013.
A Story County Judge sentenced Leigh Lepon to 50 years behind bars on Monday.
Lepon was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2013 death of 38-year-old Devlin Lockman in Ames. Police said Lockman died from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Police initially ruled Lockman's death accidental in 2013. But in February 2014, new witness statements and forensic evidence led to Lepon's second-degree murder charges. A jury convicted Lepon in November.
The victim's mother, Linda Smith, also spoke directly to Lepon.
"You have taken a person I loved very much, and he has been replaced with a pervasive, overwhelming empty sense of sadness that will be with me the rest of my life," Smith said. "I feel as though someone has torn the heart and soul out of me. I can only imagine the devastation that the children must feel."
Lockman was a father of three. His oldest son, his namesake, faced his father's killer.
"Throughout my life, my dad has meant a lot to me. He was probably my biggest inspiration. Without him now, I can't find much of a reason to keep on keeping on although I've been trying hard," Devlin Lockman Jr. said. "I hope that everybody who's been affected by this loss will be able to recover. My dad wouldn't want anyone worrying about him."
Lepon told the court and the victim's family that he's going to prison an innocent man.
"He was a good friend. I loved him very much," Lepon said of the victim. "I miss him."
"I'm going off to prison for something that I did not do, and I don't fault you for believing whatever you believe at this point. I have no anger, no hatred because I'm going to prison," he said.
Prosecutor Jessica Reynolds said justice was served Monday.
"That obviously can't do anything to ease their pain, but we did our job in this case," Reynolds said.
Iowa law requires him to serve 35 years of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.