Kimbley step-grandfather sentenced to 20 years in prison - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Kimbley step-grandfather sentenced to 20 years in prison

Leo Daniel Harber. Photo Source: Smith County Jail. Leo Daniel Harber. Photo Source: Smith County Jail.

The step-grandfather of the two-year-old East Texas boy who was found dead in his family's septic tank last month was in court Friday.

Leo Daniel Harber, 73, was arrested last month when authorities found him in violation of his sex offender probation. Authorities located guns in Harber's home, after being called to the Kimbley family residence next door, when two-year-old Jake Kimbley was reported missing.

In court Friday, detectives testified that Leo Harber told authorities there were weapons in a black box on the floor of his bedroom closet. Detectives testified three weapons were retrieved including a High Point 45, a .22 rifle and a Taurus firearm.

Detectives said Harber was outside the residence while detectives were searching his home.

Brent Thomas testified on behalf of the Smith County Adult Probation Office. Thomas told the court Harber was in direct violation of his probation by possessing a firearm.

Harber's wife, Laura Harber, testified that the guns were hers and not her husband's. She told the court she bought them personally and that Leo never went shooting with her or even looked at the guns. "He wanted nothing to do with them," she said.

Laura Harber testified that if the six Kimbley children ever came over to her house, which is next door to theirs, Leo would leave the property. Laura Harber testified that Jake Kimbley was her grandson and Sabrina Kimbley is her daughter. Sabrina and David Kimbley were arrested on 13 counts of child endangerment, each, on August 30, 2012.

Laura Harber testified that Sabrina knew Leo was a registered sex offender, "because he was her dad."

The State asked Laura Harber about a note they found posted on a window of the Kimbley residence. Prosecutors alleged the note was written by Sabrina Kimbley and that it advised Leo to stay away from the Kimbley home because of photographs allegedly taken of the children's bedrooms.

Laura Harber testified that Leo had photos in his vehicle of the trash outside of the Kimbley home, and not pictures of the children's bedrooms. She said the bedrooms were accidentally in part of the photos. Laura also said she did not believe the handwriting in the note to be her daughter, Sabrina's.

The state asked Laura once again if Leo knew there were guns in the house. She said "yes."

In closing arguments, the State said Leo Harber knew there were firearms in his house, which was a violation of his probation.

The defense argued the firearms belonged to Laura Harber, were not in Leo's possession and that there was no evidence that he ever touched them.

Smith County Seventh District Court Judge Kerry Russell found Leo Harber guilty of violating his probation. Judge Russell said testimony showed Harber directed law enforcement to the guns himself, he knew they were in his home and he knew "owning, possessing or being around firearms at anytime," was illegal.

In the punishment phase of the hearing, the State asked Judge Russell to sentence Harber to the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The State said it was disgusting that Harber only received 10 years probation back in 2004 when the sexual assault case went to court.

"This man routinely raped his step-daughter to the point where she [was] impregnated by him," said Assistant District Attorney Richard Vance. "That's what we're dealing with and that's just outright disgusting."

Harber's defense attorney, John Jarvis, told the court the prosecution shouldn't argue they're disgusted that Harber got 10 years probation back in 2004 because "they're the ones who agreed to the probation."

Jarvis said the original offense happened 20 years ago and for the last eight years, Harber hasn't messed up while on probation. Jarvis said, Harber is not a young man and asked Judge Russell to consider allowing him to finish out his last two years of probation in jail with credit for the month he has already served in jail.

Judge Russell sentenced Harber to 20 years in the state penitentiary and a $10,000 fine.

Harber has the right to appeal if he files his appeal within the next 30 days.

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