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Man Who Blocked Removal of Bullet from Shoulder Sentenced to 10 Years

April 24, 1985

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A man who won a U.S. Supreme Court fight to block the surgical removal of a bullet from his shoulder has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the holdup attempt in which he allegedly was wounded.

A Richmond Circuit Court jury on Tuesday convicted Rudolph Lee Jr. on charges of unlawful wounding and attempted robbery during a shoot-out with a local grocer three years ago.

Lee, who said he was wounded when robbed by two men elsewhere in the city on the night of the shootout, fought to prevent removal of the bullet for use as evidence against him.

The Supreme Court ruled in March that Lee could not be forced to undergo surgery to recover the bullet, saying in a unanimous decision that surgery would constitute an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

Lee was charged in July 1982 with malicious wounding, attempted robbery and using a firearm in an attempted robbery and shooting.

The jury deliberated less than 11/2 hours before convicting Lee of a lesser charge of unlawful wounding, attempted robbery and using a firearm in the attempted robbery. He was acquitted on the second firearm charge.

Ralph Watkinson, the owner of the grocery store, testified he had a gun in his pocket while he was locking up his market on the night of July 18.

″I had been robbed about six days before ... and I was wary of trouble,″ he said.

He said he was approached by an armed man who ordered him to freeze, then pulled his own gun and fired. He identified the man as Lee.

Watkinson was hit in both legs, but said he was sure he hit the upper part of the would-be robber’s body. Watkinson said Lee ″flinched″ and ran down an alley.

Police said Lee was found lying on the sidewalk about eight blocks from the market shortly afterward.

Detective J.E. Foster said Lee told him that two men had robbed and shot him while he was walking to his car. Foster and another officer said they questioned people in the immediate area and could not find anyone who heard a shot.

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