A veteran 6th Judicial Circuit Court judge found dead in his Prince George County Courthouse office on New Year’s Day committed suicide, the state medical examiner’s office has ruled.
Judge Nathan Curtis Lee, 60, suffered a fatal gunshot wound in his mouth, the medical examiner’s office said Wednesday morning.
Police, fire and EMS authorities were called to the Prince George Courthouse for reports of an unresponsive male at 9:46 p.m. Sunday, Prince George police said. Police immediately noted Monday that foul play was not suspected in the judge’s death but said the investigation was continuing.
Reached Wednesday, Prince George Commonwealth’s Attorney Susan Fierro said she has been monitoring the police investigation into Lee’s death and that “at this point, given all the evidence we have, including the medical examiner’s findings, it’s clear that there’s no criminal action here. And my office’s interests are closed in the matter.”
Fierro added that police have filed paperwork to trace the firearm Lee used — a handgun — “to confirm the owner, if it’s on file.”
In response to a question whether Lee left behind a note that may have offered some explanation for his death, Prince George police Capt. Brian Kei cited a Virginia code section that exempts from mandatory disclosure “such documents (that) contain personal information that would jeopardize the privacy of certain persons.”
Lee, a native of Hopewell, was appointed to the bench as a 6th Judicial Circuit Court judge by former Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2012 after the position was left unfilled by the General Assembly. He was subsequently elected to the position on a permanent basis by state legislators.
He practiced law in Virginia for more than 30 years and started his legal career with a small firm and ran a private practice for 18 years before his appointment to the bench. He also served as a substitute judge in general district court.
He and his wife continued to live in Hopewell and raised two daughters.
“Judge Lee was just a gentleman, through and through,” Fierro said. “Very fair, he had an excellent demeanor for the bench and for the courtroom. He loved his job as a judge and was an active member with our Crater Criminal Justice Board. He was the judge who handled drug court, and he was always concerned about the participants and their successful completion of the programs.”
“He loved his family and spoke often of his daughters,” she added. “I think what I’ll remember most about him is how he beamed with pride whenever he spoke about his daughters.”
Lee was one of two judges appointed by the General Assembly to serve the 6th Judicial Circuit, which includes Hopewell and the counties of Prince George, Brunswick, Greensville, Surry and Sussex. Lee and 6th Judicial Circuit Judge W. Allan Sharrett sat in all six localities.