Michael King Murders Denise Lee In Florida

Michael King was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for the murder of Denise Lee

According to court documents Michael King would kidnap, sexually assault and murder Denise Lee

Michael King would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

Michael King Photos

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Michael King Now

DC Number: 132254
Birth Date: 05/04/1971
Initial Receipt Date: 12/14/2009
Current Facility: UNION C.I.
Current Custody: MAXIMUM
Current Release Date: DEATH SENTENCE

Michael King Case

[O]n January 17, 2008, at approximately 3:30 p.m., Nathan Lee returned to his home on Latour Avenue in North Port, Florida, to find his wife, Denise Amber Lee, missing. The doors were locked, but her keys, purse, and cellular telephone were in the house. The couple’s two sons, ages six and two months, were in a crib together, which was not typical. At around 4 p.m. that day, Detective Chris Morales of the North Port Police Department was notified that Denise Lee was missing. When Morales responded to the home on Latour Avenue, he found no signs of forced entry or a struggle, and the children were unharmed.

Earlier that day, between 1 and 2 p.m., a neighbor of the Lees was watching television from a position which provided a view of the street. During that time, she saw a green Camaro “creeping up and down my road going very slow.” The Camaro had a black “car bra,” which is a leather or vinyl casing across the front of the car which protects against impact from insects or rocks. The neighbor observed the car circle the street four or five times. When the neighbor walked outside to investigate because the driver appeared to be lost, the car pulled into the Lees’ driveway. The neighbor made eye contact with the driver but, believing that the operator of the vehicle had found the residence he was looking for, she returned to her house. Ten or fifteen minutes later, the neighbor again stepped outside and saw the Camaro depart from the Lees’ residence. The neighbor did not observe Denise Lee entering or being forced into the Camaro.

Later that day, between the hours of 5:30 and 6 p.m., Michael King unexpectedly arrived at the home of his cousin, Harold Muxlow. King was wearing a white shirt with a design. King asked Muxlow for a flashlight, a gas can, and a shovel, explaining that his lawnmower was stuck in his front yard. After Muxlow provided King the tools, King immediately left. As Muxlow was walking back to his house, he heard a female voice from the vehicle exclaim, “Call the cops.” Muxlow turned around and walked down the driveway toward King, asking what he was doing. King lifted his head from beside the passenger side of the car and replied, “Nothing, don’t worry about it.” Muxlow initially turned and began to walk toward his house but, curious, he turned around once again and walked to the edge of the street toward the car. There, he saw King crawling over the console in the Camaro and pushing the head of a person with shoulder-length hair down in the back seat. He also observed part of the person’s knee rise up. King then climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away.

Thinking the incident was suspicious, Muxlow drove to King’s residence to investigate if King had returned and whether a lawnmower was in fact stuck in the yard. When Muxlow arrived, he found neither King’s green Camaro nor a lawnmower in King’s yard. Muxlow placed an anonymous 911 phone call in which he provided a description of King’s vehicle and informed the dispatcher that a person might be in the described vehicle against her will.

At 6:14 p.m., the Sarasota County Sherriff’s Office received another 911 call. During trial, the parties stipulated that the female voice on this 911 call was that of Denise Lee. Harold Muxlow testified that a second, male voice also present on the 911 recording was that of his cousin, Michael King. The recording of the 911 call presented during trial was transcribed by the court reporter as follows:  [n.1]

[n.1] ․ Due to the absence of the [complete] transcript, the text of the call is derived from the transcription of the court reporter and an audio recording of the 911 call that was included as part of the record on appeal. Brackets indicate words that the Court could hear but were not fully understood or transcribed by the court reporter.


[LEE:  I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I just want to go—]


[LEE:  I’m sorry. I just want to see my family.]

MALE VOICE:  Why did you do that?

LEE:  I’m sorry. [I just want to see my family.]


LEE:  I just want to see my family again. Please.

DISPATCHER:  Hello? Hello?

LEE:  I just want to see my family again. Let me go.


MALE VOICE:  (Inaudible) the f**king phone.

LEE:  Please let me go. Please let me go. Please let me see my family again.

MALE VOICE:  No f**king problem.

LEE:  Okay.



LEE:  I’m sorry.

[MALE VOICE:  I was gonna let you go and then you go f**k around.]

LEE:  [I’m sorry. Please] let me go.

MALE VOICE:  Where’s my phone?


[MALE VOICE:  Now I’ve got to go to the next street because of him.]

LEE:  I’m sorry. Please let me go.

MALE VOICE:  What are you doing?


LEE:  Please let me go, please. Oh, God, please.

[MALE VOICE:  (inaudible) in front of my cousin Harold.]


LEE:  Please let me go, [God] please.

MALE VOICE:  I told you I would.


LEE:  Help me.

DISPATCHER:  What’s the address?

LEE:  Please help me.

DISPATCHER:  What’s the address that you’re at? [ (to supervisor):  Coming off the North Port Tower.]

LEE:  Please.

MALE VOICE:  I’m not (inaudible).


LEE:  Please let me go.

DISPATCHER:  What is the address that you’re at? Hello, ma’am?

LEE:  Where are we going?

MALE VOICE:  I’ve got to go up and around now because of what you did.

LEE:  Up and around where?

MALE VOICE:  Didn’t you see (inaudible). Exactly four streets—well, five streets over from your house.

LEE:  I couldn’t tell (inaudible).

DISPATCHER:  What’s your name, ma’am? Hello? What’s your name?

LEE:  Please. My name is Denise. I’m married to a beautiful husband, and I just want to see my kids again.

DISPATCHER:  Your name’s Denise?

LEE:  I’m sorry.

DISPATCHER (to supervisor):  I’m thinking too, that he doesn’t know.

LEE:  Please, God. Please protect me.

DISPATCHER:  Are you on I–75?

LEE:  Where are we?

[MALE VOICE:  What did you do with my cell phone?]

LEE:  I don’t know. Please. Protect me, please.

DISPATCHER:  Where are you at? Can you tell if you’re on I–75?

LEE:  I don’t know where your phone is. I’m sorry.

[MALE VOICE:  You be honest with me.]

LEE:  Can’t you just tell me where we are?

DISPATCHER:  Are you blindfolded? If you are, press the button.

LEE:  I don’t have your phone. Please, God.


LEE:  I don’t have it. I’m sorry.

DISPATCHER:  Denise? Do you know this guy?

[MALE VOICE:  Be honest.]

LEE:  I don’t—I don’t have it. I’m sorry.

DISPATCHER:  Denise, do you know this guy? (to supervisor:  She might have the phone laid down and not hear a thing I’m saying too. He keeps saying a phone.)

LEE:  I don’t know where it is. Maybe if I could see I could help you find it.


[LEE:  No, sir.]


LEE:  I’m looking for it. Uh-huh?

DISPATCHER:  How long have you been gone from your house?

LEE:  I don’t know.

DISPATCHER:  How long?

LEE:  I don’t know.

DISPATCHER:  Do you know how long you’ve been gone from your house?


DISPATCHER:  What’s your last name?

LEE:  Lee.


LEE:  Yeah.

DISPATCHER:  Do you know—

LEE:  I don’t know where your phone is.

DISPATCHER:  Your name is Denise Lee?

LEE:  Uh-huh.

DISPATCHER:  Can you tell at all what street you’re on?

LEE:  No.

DISPATCHER:  Do you know this guy that’s with you?

LEE:  No.

DISPATCHER:  You don’t know him from anywhere?

LEE:  No. Please. Oh, God, help me.

DISPATCHER:  What’s your address? What’s your home address;  do you know?


LEE:  I don’t know. Please just take me to my house. Can you take me home, on Latour, please?

DISPATCHER:  Can you see or do you have a blindfold on?

LEE:  I can’t see. Where are we?


DISPATCHER:  Can they turn off the radio or turn it down?

LEE:  I can’t hear you. It’s too loud. Where are we?


LEE:  Are you going to hurt me?

MALE VOICE:  Give me the phone.

LEE:  Are you going to let me out now?

MALE VOICE:  As soon as I get the phone.

LEE:  Help me.

At that moment, the call was terminated. The cellular telephone number from which the 911 call was dialed was identified as belonging to Michael King. Law enforcement proceeded to King’s residence in North Port and forcibly entered the premises;  however, neither Lee nor King was there.

During the early evening of January 17, while Shawn Johnson was stopped at a traffic light, he heard an adult female voice screaming for help. At the North Port police station, Johnson subsequently selected Michael King from a photo lineup as the man who was operating the green Camaro from which the screams for help were emanating. Johnson also identified King as the driver during trial.

On that same day, at approximately 6:30 p.m., Jane Kowalski was stopped at a traffic light on Highway 41 when she heard someone screaming and a “commotion” coming from the Camaro that was in the traffic lane beside her. Kowalski made eye contact with the male driver of the Camaro. She subsequently identified King from a photo lineup and also during trial as the man who was driving the car. Kowalski described the screaming as, “Horrific, terrified. I’ve never ever heard anything like that in my life.” As she watched, the man driving the Camaro turned around and began to push something down in the backseat. After the driver finished the downward motion, Kowalski saw a hand rise up from the back seat and begin banging loudly on the passenger-side window. When the traffic light turned green, Kowalski hesitated with the intent to be in a position to read the license plate of the Camaro as it passed. However, King refused to drive forward and, when Kowalski began to slowly roll forward, he changed traffic lanes and pulled behind her. When Kowalski realized that King would not pass her, she dialed 911 and described her observations of the Camaro and the behavior of the driver. While speaking with the dispatcher, Kowalski observed the Camaro make another lane change and then make a left turn onto Toledo Blade Boulevard, heading toward Interstate 75. Due to the traffic, she was unable to change lanes and follow the Camaro.

At 9 p.m. that evening, Deputy Christian Wymer and State Trooper Edward Pope were posted at Toledo Blade Boulevard near Interstate 75 watching for a green Camaro. From a series of “be on the lookout” (BOLO) announcements, the officers had a description of the car, a license plate number, and driver’s license photos of Lee and King. At approximately 9:10 p.m., a green Camaro matching the description given in the BOLO drove from Toledo Blade Boulevard onto the on-ramp for I–75 southbound. Trooper Pope followed the Camaro and eventually caused it to stop. Based upon the information he had at that time, Pope conducted a felony stop, i.e., he placed his vehicle in a tactical position and drew his weapon. He ordered the driver to exit the vehicle multiple times, but the driver did not comply. Only after a fifth command, during which Pope advised that if the driver did not comply, he (Pope) would fire into the vehicle, the door opened and the driver exited from the front door backwards, leaning over the console toward the passenger seat. Pope identified the driver as a “perfect match” to the person on Michael King’s driver’s license.

During the stop, Pope observed that King was wet from the waist down and had mud resin on the base of his shoes. King was wearing jeans and a shirt with a camouflage pattern. [n.2]. In King’s pockets, Pope discovered a wallet that contained King’s driver’s license with a photo that matched the picture that Pope had previously received. Pope also recovered a cellular phone, from which the battery and the SIM card had been removed. On the bra of the Camaro, Pope observed hair strands, and he also observed hair strands on the spoiler with what appeared to be blood pellets. A viscous, sap-like substance was present on the bra of the car. Inside the vehicle, Pope observed a gas can on the passenger seat and a cellular phone battery on the passenger-side floorboard. Pope observed a blanket and a ring in the backseat;  however, Lee was not in the car. During trial, the parties stipulated that the ring found in the backseat of the Camaro belonged to Denise Lee.

[n.2] Harold Muxlow testified that King was wearing a white shirt with a design when he arrived to borrow the shovel, gas can, and flashlight. Accordingly, King changed his shirt sometime between the time he left Muxlow’s residence and when the police detained him on I–75.

After the car was towed to the North Port Police Department, a shovel with dirt caked on the underside was discovered in the back seat. During trial, Harold Muxlow identified the shovel as the one he gave King on the afternoon of January 17. A palm print found on the outside of the driver’s-side window of the Camaro was identified as belonging to Denise Lee. DNA testing on the hair recovered from the outside of the Camaro matched the known profile of Lee to the exclusion of 110 trillion other Caucasians. Hair found in the backseat of the Camaro matched Lee’s DNA to the exclusion of 9 trillion other individuals. The blanket located in the backseat tested positive for blood and matched Lee’s DNA to the exclusion of 9 trillion other individuals. Blood found on the outside of the Camaro matched the DNA profile of Denise Lee ․ Similarly, the sap-like substance found on the bra of the Camaro matched the known DNA profile of Denise Lee ․

After a search warrant was obtained, a thorough search of King’s home was conducted. ․ Upon entering the master bedroom, the technician noted that a yellow blanket covered the window. A Winnie the Pooh blanket, pillows, and a wad of duct tape with hair attached were on the floor. ․

In the kitchen, the technician observed an intact roll of duct tape on the bar. A garbage bag in the pantry contained more duct tape with hair attached. The hairs that were attached to the duct tape in the garbage bag matched the known DNA profile of Denise Lee to the exclusion of 110 trillion other Caucasians. Swabs taken from the ends of the wadded duct tape located in the master bedroom matched the known DNA profile of Michael King to the exclusion of one quadrillion other Caucasians. The Winnie the Pooh blanket found in the master bedroom tested positive for blood and semen. The semen on the blanket matched the known DNA profile of King to the exclusion of 1.1 quadrillion other individuals, and Lee could not be excluded as the contributor of the blood.

On January 18, during the subsequent effort to locate Denise Lee, an individual involved in the search noticed an area of land near Plantation Boulevard in North Port where the earth appeared to be disturbed. In the vicinity of the disturbed area were two small piles of sand that were out of place for the normal terrain. In those two piles of sand were what appeared to be blood. According to a crime scene technician, it appeared that the blood had been on the ground previously and the sand had been placed on top of the blood because the sand had absorbed the blood. A forensics team commenced the excavation of the disturbed area on the morning of January 19. As the team removed the earth, they noticed scallop marks, which were consistent with a round-nose shovel digging straight down into the earth. At a depth of three feet one inch, the team discovered the nude body of Denise Lee, lying on her side in a fetal position. A gunshot wound was visible on the body, and there was water in the bottom of the hole.

A couple of days after the body of Lee was recovered, a single nine-millimeter shell casing was discovered in the grass near the gravesite, but a projectile was never found. A couple of hundred yards away from the gravesite, a crime scene technician recovered a pair of boxer shorts owned by Nathan Lee—but often worn by Denise Lee—and a shirt belonging to Denise Lee. The boxer shorts tested positive for sperm cells, and those cells matched the DNA profile of King to the exclusion of 3.5 trillion other individuals.

The medical examiner testified that Denise Lee died from a single gunshot wound to the head. The size of the wound indicated that the bullet could not have been larger than one centimeter, and that the projectile that caused the injury could have been from either a nine-millimeter or a thirty-eight caliber weapon. Further, the wound was consistent with the gun having been placed against Lee’s head at the time it was fired. The location of the entrance wound, to the right of Lee’s right eyebrow, led the medical examiner to conclude that the gun would have been in Lee’s field of vision if her eyes were open. The medical examiner further explained that when the gun was discharged, Lee’s eye exploded, and he opined that the sap-like substance located on the bra of the Camaro could have been Lee’s ocular fluid. According to the medical examiner, there was aspirated blood in Lee’s lungs, which indicates that Lee continued to breathe for a period of time after the wound was inflicted.

With regard to the rest of Lee’s body, two pieces of duct tape were removed from her hair during the autopsy. The medical examiner found bruises on Lee’s wrists and, due to their same general location on each wrist, concluded that they could have been caused by ligatures and were consistent with defensive injuries. The medical examiner noted that Lee had vaginal bruising and anal tearing, both of which were caused by insertion trauma. The medical examiner concluded from the condition of the injuries that they were inflicted pre-mortem and were nonconsensual. Semen recovered from Lee’s vagina matched the DNA profile of King to the exclusion of 1 quadrillion other Caucasians.

The jury convicted King of first-degree murder, involuntary sexual battery, and kidnapping.


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