NORFOLK, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Suffolk man on charges of assault with intent to commit murder and discharge of a firearm after an incident that took place in May in the Great Dismal Swamp.
According to court documents, 26-year-old Maurice Lee lured his longtime partner into the Dismal Swamp by asking him to go on a picnic. The two had a “tumultuous, multi-year relationship,” and Lee’s partner had traveled from Pennsylvania to Suffolk earlier in the week to see him.
Documents said that Lee stopped by his parents’ house and retrieved a handgun before the picnic.
After walking several miles onto Lynn Ditch Road, Lee pulled out the handgun and shot the victim in the chest, accusing him of being disloyal. He then threatened to shoot the victim again in the head if he told anyone what happened.
Lee called 911 and told the dispatcher that he had been trying to shoot a bear. He then told first responders that he accidentally shot the victim because a bear was going to attack him.
“But for the grace of god, the victim survived and was able to provide details about having been lured deep into the Dismal Swamp only to have his partner shoot him point-blank in the chest,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Attorney General Barr has made aggressive prosecution of this kind of gun violence a top priority, and we will continue to seek out and aggressively prosecute cases that involve this kind of senseless and wanton violence.”
Lee faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison.