on April 12, 2013 - 2:56 PM
, updated April 13, 2013 at 5:04 PM
The death earlier this week of 96-year-old Levi Clayton has been ruled a homicide. The East Side resident never fully recovered from injuries suffered last November, when burglars broke into his home and beat him.
Complications from the blunt force trauma the attackers inflicted led to the death of the World War II veteran Wednesday in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center, authorities said.
“Erie County medical examiners have ruled the death as a homicide, concluding that the victim died from complications due to blunt force trauma,” police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said in releasing the results from the autopsy conducted Friday.
Two teenagers already have been charged in the Nov. 24 burglary and robbery and now may face homicide or manslaughter charges, according to police. Investigators are still searching for at least one more individual thought to be involved in the home invasion.
“Additional charges, an upgrading, is certainly a possibility in light of the medical examiner’s ruling of homicide,” Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said.
Clayton was beaten in his Longview Avenue home in the Delavan-Grider neighborhood, just a few blocks from Erie County Medical Center, where he spent weeks initially receiving treatment for a broken jaw and numerous other injuries.
The viciousness of the attack shocked the community and prompted a rally in front of his home to appeal for information on the identity of the attackers.
Surveillance cameras installed on the exterior of the elderly man’s home captured images of the robbers going up the driveway to the house and a dark-colored minivan they might have used as a getaway vehicle.
In January, Justice Feggans, 18, a former Riverside High School basketball star, was arrested and charged with robbery and burglary. On Tuesday, Jordon McKinnon, 19, of Buffalo, was arrested and charged with the same felony counts.
A respected member of the community, Clayton served as a World War II infantry soldier in the European Theater and, when he returned from the war, found work in the auto industry, from which he eventually retired. He was also active for years as a deacon at Buffalo’s Friendship Baptist Church.
Neighbors on Longview Avenue on Friday afternoon said they were glad about the prospect that Clayton’s attackers could face more serious charges.
“Being 96 years old and taking the beating like that, I really hope that they throw the book at them,” said Wanda Anderson. “There’s more of them to catch, and I am hoping the police get them.”
Anderson, who is a friend of Clayton’s relatives, said she was told that medically there was not much that could have been done for him. She said Ela Goree, Clayton’s niece, told her, “They could only keep him comfortable and he would not be around as long as they hoped for.”
Anderson said she noticed the dark-colored minivan pulled up by Clayton’s house in the early evening of Nov. 24 and said she thought nothing of it.
Another neighbor said he also observed the van and wishes now that he had called police.
“I saw them pull up, and I wished that I called the police,” he said asking not be identified. “I don’t think Mr. Clayton deserved to spend his last days like that. They should have been lived in peace. Who would want to go out like that?”