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Press Release

Blackstone Man Sentenced To Life For Using A Firearm To Murder An Individual At Veteran's Hospital

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – Cornelius I. Hayes, 56, of Blackstone, Va., was sentenced today to life in prison for the murder of James Stephenson Lee in the parking lot of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Richmond, Va., on Feb. 22, 2012.

            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 sentencing by United States District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson. 

“Cornelius Hayes executed a friend in broad daylight; chased his girlfriend at gunpoint; and then shot at and left for dead, someone who had come to help,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Today’s sentence is just punishment for this senseless and callous violence that endangered everyone at the VA Medical Center that fateful morning.”

“Mr. Hayes’ cold-blooded and egregious actions against these victims, including innocent bystanders from the surrounding community, cannot be tolerated and merit today’s sentencing,” said Special Agent in Charge Mazanec.

            Hayes pled guilty on Sept. 25, 2012, to use of a firearm in relation to a violent crime causing the death of another.  In documents filed with the court, Hayes admitted to approaching Lee and a female in the parking of the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veteran Administration Medical Center on Feb. 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 in the head.  Lee died as a result of the gunshots fired by Hayes.

            This case was investigated by the FBI’s Richmond Field Office and the Veteran’s Administration-Office of the Inspector General.  Assistant United States Attorneys Peter S. Duffey and Erik S. Siebert prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on
Updated March 18, 2015