FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46)- He was a corrections officer in Atlanta for more than 20 years. Tuesday Jerry Lee Sr. wore an inmate's uniform into a Fulton County courtroom. He is accused of murdering Lorrie Ann Smith more than 21 years ago.
Facing the victim's family for the first time, Lee asked to be released him on a $50,000 bond.
"He is not at risk for committing a felony while out on bond because he has never committed a felony in life, nor has he been accused of a felony," Lee's attorney said to the judge, Tuesday morning.
Police used a DNA test similar to those used by ancestry.com to link Lee to the 1997 murder scene. Attorneys say Lee's blood was all over Smith's bedroom where her parents found her shot to death. She lived in her late grandparent's home on the family's property on Stonewall Tell Road in Atlanta.
Smith was an MBA graduate from Georgia State University. She worked abroad, and had recorded multiple Christian music albums.
Escorted by a victim's advocate, Lorrie Ann's sister, Dana Bogenschutz, asked the judge to deny Lee bond.
"His residence is within 60 seconds of my parents’ house," she said, fighting back tears.
Smith's parents are now in their 80s. Her old brother and sister both testified before the judge asking that he keep Lee in jail. The family has been searching for clues into her devastating murder for decades.
"Whoever killed my sister, they have been in hiding for 21 years and have not come forward, said Jeffrey Smith. "They have had 21 years to walk free. I don't believe they should grant bond," he told the judge.
To the Smith's, Lee was a stranger they say they never knew about. They recently learned he has lived .2 miles away from their family home since the late 80s.
"The secret has been a secret," Bogenschutz said. "Sin is sin and now it is out in the open. We are thankful that at this time the lord has brought this out for us to know who. So, I am helping my parents however I can," she told CBS46's Hayley Mason after the bond hearing.
Lee's former coworkers and family friends told the court the man they knew was a man of character.
Rodney Avery, who worked in corrections with Lee for 20 years told the court, Lee is "one of the best persons I knew in this world."
Friends of Lee asked the court to trust that he would come back for hearings.
Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Pat Dutcherd rebutted asking Avery, "Do you know any reason why his blood would have been at the scene of a crime back in 1997?"
"I wouldn't know that," Avery responded in front a full Fulton County courtroom.
"We did not know who this person was," Bogenshutz said, thankful that police continued to follow the DNA, which led them to produce a sketch last year, before finally making an arrest.
The family says they are hoping for justice and peace.
"We are doing the best we can," Bogenschutz told CBS46. "My daddy just had his 85th birthday and we had a birthday party on Saturday. My mother is actually talking about putting up a Christmas tree, which she has not done for years... I am sorry for this mans' family. The lord will forgive him. We can forgive him. But, there are crimes in this land that when you murder somebody, you need to go to jail."
Lee's attorney told the judge his family was prepared to pay a "reasonable bond" of $50,000. His legal team recommended that Lee be given an ankle monitor and a curfew that would require him to be at home between 9 p.m. and 7 a. m. each day.
The judge said he would take the bond request under advisement and make a decision in a few days.