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5 men accused of beating hitchhiker

Published Sep. 28, 2005

The victim is also robbed after he paid for gasoline, according to sheriff's deputies.

Five men were charged with robbery and battery, accused of picking up a hitchhiker, beating him and taking his wallet and cigarettes, deputies say.

The victim, who was not identified in arrest reports, told Citrus County Sheriff's deputies that one of the men asked him whether he was still alive after he had been hit and kicked repeatedly.

Deputies arrested the five suspects after their vehicle was spotted at the Circle K convenience store at U.S. 19 and Cardinal Street. A credit card with the victim's name was found nearby, and one of the suspects told an officer that the victim's wallet was thrown in a retention pond behind the Ramada Inn in Homosassa.

The arrested men are Gilbert Stephen Louke, 20, 1535 S Candice Path; Kenny Lee Durbin, 24, 10200 W Fishbowl Drive; Allen Leroy Strickland, 29, Yulee Drive; Mark David Brandenberg, 19, 6217 S Candice Path; and Joshua David Doud, 19, 10838 W Misty Rose St., all of Homosassa. Each faces a charge of unarmed robbery and felony battery and was being held at the Citrus County Detention Facility on $12,000 bail.

The victim said that the five men had agreed to give him a ride from the Scotty's hardware store in Crystal River to Homosassa in exchange for $3 in gas money. After handing over the money, they drove off, he told deputies.

The victim said that the vehicle, a pickup truck, returned and he was again offered a ride. He got in back with two of the men, according to the arrest report.

He was told that one of the men in the truck had to pick up some boots at his house and they would need to take a detour, according to arrest papers. Less than a mile east of U.S. 19, the vehicle pulled to the side of the road on Penn Drive.

According to the arrest reports, all five men jumped out of the vehicle, the driver put the victim in a headlock and he was dragged out of the truck. The men then rifled through his backpack and one demanded his wallet, which was in the bag, arrest reports indicate. The wallet and cigarettes were taken after the men beat him, according to the reports.

The man gave deputies a description of his attackers and their vehicle after he called from the Circle K store near U.S. 19 and Ozello Trail.