Tuesday, March 24, 2009

North Port Sun article (March 18, 2009)

What can I say? Not much I can say. But, I thought I'd put this out there for you to read. I would like to thank Elaine for emailing me the evening before this was printed. That was very considerate and greatly appreciated. She warned me about some of what was going to be in the article. Thank you, Elaine. It helped me be emotionally prepared when I read it.

King's lawyer files motion to have evidence thrown out in Lee case


North Port Community News Editor

SARASOTA -- Michael King's attorney is trying to have evidence and King's alleged confession to the Jan. 17, 2008, kidnapping, rape and murder of Denise Amber Lee thrown out before his August trial begins, saying her client's rights were violated.

Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer is trying to block the death penalty against King being sought by the state, according to a recently filed motion.

Following an evaluation of King, 37, the state asked that he be examined by a second doctor. The documents show the first physician, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Kasper -- selected by King's attorney -- found King "incompetent to proceed with the upcoming trial."

Schlemmer wrote that King's rights were violated shortly after he was arrested on Interstate 75 off Toledo Blade Boulevard near where the 21-year-old's body was found Jan. 19. At the time, police observed King's pants were soaking wet and saw a shovel in his car.

Minutes after he was handcuffed, King said he would like to speak to an attorney, according to the 11-page document detailing King's questioning on the night of the incident.

At the same time, numerous law enforcement agencies were on a massive manhunt for Lee.

Earlier in the evening, police dispatchers in North Port received four different 911 calls relating to Lee's kidnapping, including one Lee made from King's cell phone when he got out of his car to allegedly borrow a gas can, flashlight and shovel from his cousin, Harold Muxlow Jr., while in North Port.

Schlemmer wrote that instead of clarifying King's request for an attorney, North Port detectives took him on a "ride-along," searching for Lee while questioning him. She added that King's rights were "clearly violated" as his Miranda rights were not read to him until hours after he was taken into custody.

She wrote that police obtained information illegally when asking about injuries or bruises on King's body. She asked to suppress the information during the trial.

According to documents, Schlemmer alleges police also illegally searched and seized evidence after breaking into King's North Port home. Schlemmer wrote that hair strands reportedly belonging to Lee, pieces of duct tape and hair ties, bedding, carpeting and clothing were illegally removed from the home before police had a search warrant. Therefore, this information should not be used against King.

"At the time of the illegal entry into Mr. King's house, there was no evidence that any crime had been committed in his house," Schlemmer wrote, referring to police officer's reaction to a 911 call Jan. 17 from Sabrina Muxlow -- King's niece -- who reported her father, Harold, was concerned King might do something harmful to a woman in his green Camaro.

North Port Police Detective Chris Morales maintains the department "didn't do anything wrong."

"That's false," he said Tuesday, regarding the accusations of the department's method of questioning King. "It's (interviews with King) all on video."

Schlemmer said none of the information gathered from Muxlow should be allowed in court.

According to documents, police "circumvented" King's rights by allowing Muxlow to come to the police department and identify the items King borrowed.

The state is seeking the death penalty for King in this case. However, King's attorney wrote that lethal injection is "unconstitutional." She cited cases where lethal injection didn't immediately kill a prisoner. The anesthetic wore off and caused five to seven minutes of "unnecessary pain," the report said.

King's trial is set for August.

E-mail: eallen@sun-herald.com