APPLETON - The man accused of murder at an Appleton nightclub may also have been trying to convince witnesses not to testify against him.
Chong Lee, 28, is accused of shooting Joshua Richards, 25, at the Luna Lounge.
[caption id="attachment_6554" align="alignleft" width="300"] Chong Lee appears in Outagamie County Court for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.[/caption]
Detectives who testified Wednesday said that Chong Lee knew if witnesses to the Luna Lounge shooting testified at his recent bond revocation hearing, he'd be facing prison time because of a prior conviction.
"I'll quote from the letter, I can't have Joe and Paul show up, if they do I will lose and I'll get the 17, referring to the 17 years I believe he would be facing concerning the revocation,” said Sgt. Neal Rabas, Appleton Police Department.
Detectives said Lee wrote a letter and made phone calls from jail trying to make sure his brother Paul Lee and friend Joe Thor who were with him the night of the shooting wouldn't go to court.
"Chong Lee was instructing them that this whole case depends on Paul and Joe's statements and that if they don't show up then we don't have a case and they need to disappear,” said Rabas.
Lee was facing the revocation hearing based on his arrest in the shooting case. He was on probation stemming from a burglary conviction in 2003.
Rabas testified Lee also tried to cover up phone calls to the men from jail.
"The majority of phone calls that we had located, Chong Lee was using other inmates calling ID numbers, I believe in an attempt to hide the fact that he was making outgoing calls,” said Rabas.
Lee's attorneys did not want to comment on the case after court. But during the hearing tried to show there was no evidence directly linking Lee with the shooting. Including that the gun used in the shooting has not yet been recovered.
[caption id="attachment_6553" align="alignleft" width="285"] Joshua Richards[/caption]
Prosecutors haven't yet said what led up to the shooting. But District Attorney Carrie Schneider did say whatever the circumstance, the situation was tragic.
"The parties didn't know each other, so it wasn't like there was a long standing beef between Mr. Richards or these people or Mr. Lee. So there was no good reason,” said Schneider.
Lee will be back in court again on March 18.
Richards’ family did not want to talk about the case after Wednesday's hearing. Instead, his mother, wanted to focus on a memorial fund they have set up in his honor.
"He was a semi-pro football player for the Green Bay Blackjacks, was really into physical fitness. We really, really want to help kids lead healthier lives and this organization we hope will do that,” said Jackie Pische, Joshua Richards’ mother.
You can donate to the fund by clicking here.