VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach judge denied bond for a man who is accused of a robbery and shooting that happened almost 20 years ago.
Clifford Lee was asking the judge to release him from jail until his trial begins in May.
Prosecutors say in November 1999, Lee was hanging around behind the Asia Grocery market on Virginia Beach Boulevard.
The victim, an employee at the market, was taking out the trash when he was approached by a man in ski mask. The suspect put a gun to the victim’s head and demanded money. Prosecutors told the judge he handed over $3 in cash and his wallet. There was struggle and the victim ran. He was shot in the left shoulder.
Prosecutors say police found shell casings and the ski mask the suspect was wearing.
For years, the case went unsolved until evidence was resubmitted to a national DNA database in 2016. There was hit: Clifford Lee.
“I don’t know, I’ve never owned a ski mask,” Lee said in a jailhouse interview.
Lee says police have the wrong guy. He went on to tell 10 On Your Side was just finished up a 14-year prison sentence in New York for manslaughter when Virginia Beach police came to visit him.
Prosecutors say Lee told police he was in the area that day 18 years ago, and gave other incriminating statements. He told police it was self-defense.
Detectives took another DNA sample from Lee, and once again it came back a match on that ski mask.
Lee is scheduled to got to trial May 9.