Man gets life in prison for 2018 murder of 16-year-old girl from Lake County

Robert Kern, 40, found guilty

Robert Kern, 40, was arrested in May 2019 . (Volusia County Sheriff's Office)

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – A jury found a man guilty of murdering a 16-year-old girl from Lake County in April 2018 on Monday.

Jurors found Robert Kern, 40, guilty of first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the killing of Justis Garrett, whose body was found in a wooded area in DeLand by a group of joggers in 2018.

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“This was a complicated circumstantial case. The defendant raped and murdered a 16-year-old child and left her body in a remote wooded area. The prosecutors prevailed and today we got Justice for Justis,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in a release.

Garrett was reported missing from her Lake County home five days before the joggers found her off Gasline Road.

Kern was arrested in May 2019 after investigators reviewed phone records, social media posts and other information between August 2018 and February 2019.

According to investigators, Kern was in a relationship previously with Garrett’s mother and told her he dropped the 16-year-old off at Mount Dora High School on April 13, 2018, but she was not reported at school that day.

Kern was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.