RICHMOND, VA—Cornelius I. Hayes, 55, of Blackstone, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to use of a firearm in relation to a violent crime causing the death of another. The charges stem from the February 22, 2012 murder of James Stephenson Lee in the parking lot of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Jeffrey C. Mazanec, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and Kim Lampkins, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson.
“Cornelius Hayes admitted that he shot and killed James Lee that tragic day in February,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “He now faces up to life in prison for bringing—and then using—a firearm to resolve a domestic dispute. Today’s guilty plea brings closure one step closer for the victims and their families.”
Hayes was indicted on April 16, 2012, by a federal grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, use of a firearm in relation to a violent crime causing the death of another, attempted murder, use of a firearm in relation to a violent crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Hayes faces a maximum penalty of life when he is sentenced on January 18, 2013.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Hayes admitted to approaching Lee and a female in the parking of the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veteran Administration Medical Center on February 22, 2012. After a brief verbal confrontation with the female, Hayes brandished a .38 caliber revolver and shot Lee in the shoulder. Hayes chased the female a short distance, only to return to Lee and shoot him a second time. Lee died as a result of the gunshots fired by Hayes.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Veteran’s Administration-Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney’s Peter S. Duffey and Erik S. Siebert are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.