Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Todays North Port Sun by Elaine Allen-Emrich

This should come as no surprise. And IMO the prosecutor is absolutely correct "Alleging of negligence of the police does not constitute a legally recognizable defense to the crime of murder in the first degree, kidnapping or sexual battery."

State wants CCSO lawsuit, Lee foundation information barred from King trial

State prosecutors don't want Nathan Lee's impending civil lawsuit against the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office over what he calls a "botched 911 call" to hinder the criminal case against his wife's accused killer.

According to court documents recently filed by the state attorney's office in Sarasota, Nathan's "alleged negligence" lawsuit and his campaign to improve 911 training after his wife's murder "is not legally relevant and should be excluded from the penalty phase of the trial." Lee can formally file a lawsuit beginning in September.

An Aug. 15 trial is set for Michael King, 38, who is accused of killing Denise Amber Lee, 21, after allegedly kidnapping and raping her on Jan. 17, 2008. Her body was found buried off Toledo Blade Boulevard two days later. The state is seeking the death penalty in the case.

The trial is planned to be at the Sarasota County Courthouse, but King's attorneys are seeking a change of venue due to the massive media coverage of the case. That would be determined at jury selection, according to the state.

In October, Nathan filed an intent to sue against the CCSO alleging negligence led to his wife's death after learning how a nine-minute 911 call from witness Jane Kowalski was handled.

Court documents show that Kowalski later learned it was Denise in the back seat of King's green Camaro while she was on the phone with a 911 operator reporting the suspicious incident.

Kowalski, of Tampa, reported each street she passed on U.S. 41 in Charlotte County while witnessing someone � whom she originally thought was a child � struggling in King's car. She stopped following the car when it turned onto Toledo Blade.

During her call, she asked the Charlotte County 911 operator if there was a BOLO � Be On the Lookout � for a missing person because she saw someone screaming and slapping the car's back window with her hand.

Nathan claims the critical information provided by Kowalski, believed to be the last witness to see Denise alive, was not relayed to CCSO deputies or North Port police officers during the massive manhunt for his wife.

"Numerous accounts in the media have attributed some amount of negligence on the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office for the matter in which the call was handled," the state claims in court documents. "Alleging of negligence of the police does not constitute a legally recognizable defense to the crime of murder in the first degree, kidnapping or sexual battery."

Nathan also formed the Denise Amber Lee Foundation to help create uniform training for 911 operators and other first responders nationwide.

But the state doesn't want Nathan's impending lawsuit against the CCSO or the foundation's work to cloud the criminal case against King.

Prosecutors are asking that neither the lawsuit nor the foundation's efforts be mentioned or even suggested during King's trial. E-mail:


North Port Community News Editor