Commonwealth v. Clifford Anthony Lee; DNA Leads to Arrest in Robbery, Shooting Several Years After Crime Committed

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced that Clifford Anthony Lee, age 37, pled guilty today to charges of Malicious Wounding, Robbery, Use of a Firearm, and Unlawful Wounding in the Commission of a Felony.  In accordance with a plea agreement, Circuit Court Judge Glenn R. Croshaw sentenced Lee to 48 years in prison with 32 years and five (5) months suspended, leaving fifteen (15) years and seven (7) months to serve.  This was the high-end of the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines' recommendation. 

Had this case gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence would have proven that at around 7 p.m. on November 29, 1999, an employee was taking out the trash at a business in the 5400 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard in Virginia Beach.  Lee stood near the trash cans and said, "Boo!" to the employee.  The employee ignored Lee and went back into the store to retrieve more trash.  As the employee took this load of trash out, Lee approached him with a ski mask on his face.  He pointed a gun at the employee and demanded money. 

The victim gave him $2.00, and Lee put the gun to the back of the victim's head and began searching the man's pockets.  A struggle over the gun ensued, and Lee shot the victim in his left shoulder.  As the man ran away, Lee fired four more shots, and one round grazed the victim's right thigh.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released. 

At the time of the crime, the ski mask was collected and a DNA profile (mixture) was developed from the mouth area of the ski mask.  A search of the DNA profile against the Virginia DNA Data Bank yielded no results, and the case went cold for many years. In June 2016, investigators were notified that the previously developed DNA profile was found to be consistent with Clifford Lee, whose DNA had been submitted to the New York State DNA Data Bank.  A Virginia Beach Police Detective visited Lee and obtained a sample of his DNA, confirming that Lee could not be eliminated as a contributor to the mixed DNA profile found on the ski mask.  When interviewed, Lee admitted that he was involved in a physical altercation behind the business in Virginia Beach in 1999. 

Lee has prior convictions from New York for First Degree Manslaughter and Assault.

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorneys Adam J. Lantz and Elizabeth C. Counts prosecuted this case. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.