Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In today's Sun-Herald

FWIW, we knew this was coming. Whatever. I rarely think of Michael King. What's fascinating is I still run into people who have no idea who Michael King is. They know about Denise and the 9-1-1 debacle but not about King. Just yesterday a customer asked me if they caught "the guy" yet. Two weeks ago someone asked "did they catch the guys who did this?" There are so many people out there that don't read newspapers or blogs.

It's just like nails on a chalkboard. I guess it'll get worse. I'm not looking forward to it.

Here's the article:

Venue change requested in King trial

SARASOTA COUNTY -- With media coverage ranging from hundreds of local newspaper articles to an hour-long "Dateline NBC" TV broadcast, Michael King's name has been associated with Denise Amber Lee since police named him as a suspect in her kidnapping, rape and murder on Jan. 17, 2008.

Now King's attorneys are trying to have his upcoming trial, set for August at the Sarasota County Courthouse, moved because of the vast amount of media coverage of the case.

More than 75 pages of court documents were recently submitted by one of King's public defenders asking for the highly publicized trial to be moved out of the county.

However, according to Sarasota County Assistant State Attorney Lon Arend, the request will not be considered until the jury selection process beings.

"We don't really address it until we are trying to pick a jury," Arend said Monday. "If we tried to pick a jury and can't find enough people who are not familiar with the case, then it would be decided if the trial should be moved."

Arend said it's standard procedure for an attorney to ask for the trial to be moved if it generates massive media attention.

This isn't the first time King's attorneys have sought accommodations. Shortly after King was arrested last year, assistant public defender John Scotese asked a judge for a gag order banning everyone involved in the case from speaking to all news media.

In his motion, Scotese wrote that the more information reported about King, 37, would make it harder for a fair trial.

The motion requested attorneys, witnesses, law enforcement and court personnel, and the prosecution not give information to any news agencies. Scotese also requested a motion asking the judge to keep specific information secret until the trial ended.

The judge did not uphold the gag order request. A copy of a 911 tape from witness Jane Kowalski, who spotted King's green Camaro on the night of the murder, was released to the media. Police investigators held news conferences to brief the public about updates in the case, and some documents in King's file have been made public.

Since Denise Lee's murder, her widower Nathan has appeared on the "Dr. Phil Show" and "Primetime," and has been interviewed by a multitude of reporters throughout the nation.

Blogs and Web sites include postings from local citizens to residents of New Zealand who discuss all aspects of the King case, including police finding Denise's ring in King's Camaro, a DNA sample taken from Lee's body that matched King's, and strands of the 21-year-old's hair found at his North Port home.

"I expected this. I was warned that his attorney would be scrambling," Lee said Monday. "Evidence is evidence. Justice will prevail for Denise.

"I have to have faith in the State Attorney's Office. I hope (King) has the best defense so he has no chance to appeal it."

Earlier this month, Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer filed a motion to block the death penalty for King, citing lethal injection, if not done properly would create "unnecessary pain."

She also asked that some evidence be banned from the trial, citing King's rights were violated on the night he was arrested. She said King was not read his rights before being questioned for hours.

However, in a series of taped interviews with King on the night Lee was abducted, released to the media, an officer read King his rights.

E-mail: eallen@sun-herald.com


North Port Community News Editor