He robbed and abducted her, then they talked religion. He cried. Now, he’s headed to prison

James Clifton Pree Jr. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office)
James Clifton Pree Jr. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

VIRGINIA BEACH — A local man will serve a very lengthy prison sentence for robbing, abducting and carjacking a woman in 2014.

James Clifton Pree Jr., 49, also was sentenced Monday for two counts of use of a firearm. Circuit Court Judge James C. Lewis gave him 158 years with 123 years suspended, leaving 35 years to serve.

Pree pleaded guilty to the charges in January.

The case

On May 4, 2014, Pree approached a woman who was walking to her parked car in a shopping center on Holland Road.

Pree pushed the woman into the car and told her not to fight because he had a gun and would shoot her, according to the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

The woman struggled until she was forced into the passenger seat.  Pree ripped her shirt, put her in a headlock, punched her repeatedly in the face and head “and strangled her to the point of unconsciousness.”

She woke up with Pree driving her car on South Plaza Trail, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said.

He drove behind an office park and told her he needed money.  He then pulled her credit card and driver’s license out of her wallet and demanded the woman give him directions to her bank to withdraw money from the ATM.

When they arrived at Navy Federal Credit Union, Pree told the woman to “look presentable” because there was blood on her shirt and there would be a camera at the ATM.

He demanded $500 but she was only able to withdraw $200. Pree let her get back into the driver’s seat and told her to drive someplace where he could leave without being caught.

Religion

On the way, Pree and the woman talked about religion and he cried because he had hurt her.  When they stopped in a secluded parking lot, Pree tied up the woman with items from an emergency kit in her trunk.

Prosecutors said Pree took the victim’s t-shirt, which he had used to wipe his face, and wiped down things he had touched in the car. He fled with her t-shirt and a pair of gloves he wore during the incident.  The victim was able to free herself and call for help.

The woman provided a detailed description of her attacker to police and Pree was arrested on May 8, 2014.  His DNA was found inside the victim’s car, prosecutors said.

Pree has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1990.  He has prior convictions for robbery, attempted robbery, burglary, attempted burglary, grand larceny, destruction of property, assault, public intoxication, open container, concealment, as well as numerous traffic infractions and violations of probation.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.