Lenard Masten, 26, of Lakeland.

SENTENCING UPDATE: Convicted felon to spend life in prison for armed robbery, kidnapping

Lenard Masten, who has previous violent crime convictions, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Lenard Masten, 26, of Lakeland.

Masten, 26, was found guilty on March 17 of three counts of robbery with a firearm, armed kidnapping, two counts of armed false imprisonment, burglary of a dwelling with an assault while armed with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and tampering with a witness. He was previously convicted of aggravated assault and robbery, which he was on probation for when he was arrested June 26, 2015.

Assistant State Attorney Michael Nutter tried the case in March, securing the additional convictions.

About 9 p.m. on June 24, 2015, Bimalkumar Trivedi locked up his convenience store in Lakeland and went home to his elderly parents. Trivedi parked his car and walked to the door when Masten placed a gun against Trivedi’s head, forcing his way into the residence.

Trivedi’s parents were at the table eating dinner, and Masten took their phones and placed them in the sink under running water. He told Trivedi he needed money while leading him into another room at gunpoint, so Trivedi gave Masten $1,000.
Masten then decided to escort Trivedi and his parents at gunpoint to a closet and force them to lay down. He tried to tie Trivedi up with a belt but was unsuccessful.

After realizing he may be leaving fingerprints in the residence, Masten picked up a pair of dirty socks and placed them on his hands like gloves.

When Trivedi and his parents wouldn’t all fit in the closet, Masten led them to the garage and then to the bathroom, where he forced them to stand in the shower with the water on as he left the residence. After waiting until he was sure Masten was gone, Trivedi retrieved his phone from the sink – which was still working – and called 911.

Witnesses saw Masten’s car near Trivedi’s home the night of the robbery, and law enforcement found a $100 bill on a nearby street. Later, a search of Masten’s car revealed socks matching the ones taken from Trivedi’s home, another $100 bill, and the clothing Masten wore during the robbery. Cell phone records showed that a few weeks before the robbery, Masten followed Trivedi from his business to his home.

In an interview with law enforcement, Masten broke down and admitted to everything, apologizing for what he did.