Kevin Hawkins, the man authorities said was doused with gasoline by his stepson in August and then set on fire, has died, a prosecutor confirmed this afternoon.
Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham said her office received word of Hawkins’ passing this morning. She said he passed away overnight.
Hawkins’ stepson Andrell Leppanen, 29, remains in custody on attempted murder and other charges. He appeared in court last week and pleaded not guilty to his formal indictment in the case.
Tremante-Pelham said investigators are looking into Hawkins’ passing further, and charges against Leppanen could be upgraded to murder.
Leppanen is accused of burning 59-year-old Kevin Hawkins at their 925 Bridge St. residence the morning of Aug. 26.
Hawkins ran to a neighbor’s residence for help after the attack, suffering burns over 40 percent of his body. Leppanen fled, but police arrested him two days later.
Latonia Hawkins, Kevin Hawkins’ wife and Leppanen’s mother, described her husband in early September as stable at Westchester Medical Center’s burn unit. The burns touched his neck, chest, arms, back and elsewhere.
Contacted last week, Latonia Hawkins did not offer an update on her husband’s condition.
Kevin Hawkins helped raise his stepson from age 2, Latonia Hawkins said.
Kevin Hawkins owned Keys World, a store selling clothing and other items on Albany Street. He was known to patrons as a good-natured and caring man.
Leppanen, Latonia Hawkins said in September, suffered in recent years from mental health problems. He once served as a licensed practical nurse. In recent years, though, he began acting and talking irrationally, she said. He was arrested twice on assault charges, sidetracking his career.
Leppanen’s attorney said he plans to explore a defense related to Leppanen’s mental health issues.
Among her son’s diagnoses, Latonia Hawkins has said, are bipolar disorder and, more recently, schizophrenia.
The family set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Reach Gazette reporter Steven Cook at 395-3122, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ByStevenCook on Twitter.