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Woman’s frantic 911 call helps convict her killer

Posted by kayms99 on August 29, 2009

art(CNN) — A Florida plumber was found guilty Friday of kidnapping and murdering a police detective’s daughter at a trial in which his victim’s voice filled the courtroom as her desperate 911 call was played to the jury.

Denise Lee’s frantic 911 call was the centerpiece of her killer’s trial.

 1 of 3  Jurors deliberated just two hours before finding Michael L. King, 38, guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery in the January 17, 2008 abduction and slaying of Denise Amber Lee, a 21-year-old mother of two.

art_kingLee’s family, including her father, Charlotte County Sheriff’s Det. Rick Goff, cried as the verdict was announced; King showed no reaction.

The jury must next decide whether King, who was a stranger to Lee, should be executed for his crimes.

According to testimony during the weeklong trial, Lee was taken from her home sometime after 2 p.m., driven to King’s home, sexually assaulted, then shot in the head and buried in a shallow grave in a marshy vacant lot.  Watch King listen to the verdict »

art_camaroKing’s attorney, Jerry Meisner, did not present any witnesses. But prosecutors told the jury that Lee’s ring was found in King’s car, and hair matching hers was found on duct tape found at King’s house.

According to testimony and court records, Lee fought frantically for her life, banging on the windows of King’s green Camaro, screaming for help and begging one witness, “Call the cops.”  Watch the defendant as he hears the 911 tape »

Several people reported seeing something suspicious and called 911. But authorities didn’t find Lee in time, and allegations that dispatchers mishandled the calls have led to criticism of the local 911 system.

Lee’s body was found on January 19 near where police stopped King’s car some six hours after the abduction.

The jury heard two 911 calls — Lee’s and one from a concerned witness.

Don’t Miss
In Session:  Detective’s daughter murdered   http://insession.blogs.cnn.com/category/detectives-daughter-murdered/

 Watch the defendant as he hears the 911 tape…


Lee used one of King’s cell phones to call 911 as she was driven across three counties. As the six-minute tape was played for the jury, her voice sounded tremulous at times, and frantic at others.

The call came in at 6:14 p.m. on January 17. A 911 operator repeatedly said “Hello,” and Lee was heard pleading with her captor: “I’m sorry. I just want to see my family. … I just want to see my family again. Please. … Oh please, I just want to see my family again. Let me go.”

The man, whose voice was identified in court as King’s, cursed at her for trying to attract attention. A radio played loudly in the background. The 911 operator asked her address. Eventually, Lee managed to say, “My name is Denise. I’m married to a beautiful husband and I just want to see my kids again. … Please, God, please protect me.”

The 911 operator asked where she was, and then whether she knew the man. The operator asked if she knew her location. “Please just take me to my house. Can you take me home?” Lee said. The connection was then lost.

Sixteen minutes later, driver Jane Kowalski called 911 to report what she thought was a child abduction. She said she was stopped at a light and could hear screaming from another car “and not a happy scream, a get-me-out-of-here scream.”

She testified that she saw someone banging on the car window, slapping her hand hard to demonstrate. “It was very loud,” she told the jury. “It was completely horrific, terrified, panicky. I can’t think of enough words, it was terrible.”

She followed the car for a while, but lost it.

Police quickly traced Lee’s call to King’s cell phone, and were looking for him. But Kowalski’s call was never passed on to officers.

Other witnesses also helped establish the timeline for the terrifying final hours of Lee’s life.

Lee’s former neighbor, Jennifer Eckert, 24, testified that she saw the green Camaro circle the block three or four times between 1 and 2 p.m. and pull into the Lees’ driveway. She said she was certain of the time, because she was watching her favorite TV soap.

King’s cousin, Harold Muxlow, testified that King stopped by his house between 5:30 and 6 p.m., and asked to borrow a flashlight, a gas can, and a shovel.

He testified that a “girl’s voice” from the car asked him to “call the cops” but Muxlow said King told him, “Don’t worry. It’s nothing.”
The 911 communications breakdown in connection with Kowalski’s call was blamed on a shift change and two dispatchers were suspended, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Lee’s husband, Nathan, has launched a foundation bearing her name that works toward 911 reform. He plans to file a lawsuit next month, a family spokesman said.


10 Responses to “Woman’s frantic 911 call helps convict her killer”

  1. kay~ms said

    This trial just wrapped up here in Sarasota. This is such an unbelievably sad story. I’ve seen the story on a couple primetime shows… Dateline and 48 hours. And to see the home video of her pushing her small baby boy in a swing at the playground… the way he smiled when looking up at her, it’s hard to watch knowing he’ll have to grow up now without her.

    The penalty portion is now comming up.

    Okay… DEATH PENALTY DEBATE IS ON! Come on liberals… tell me why this man shouldn’t be executed!


  2. dorian said

    sad. imo, those found guilty without shadow of a doubt of commiting violent crimes, esp. w sexual assault should be executed. and i’m not opposed to some creative torture. i’m sure p. can come up with good ones. yup, i’m for capital punishment. I don’t understand why manson or petterson is still around when they should be where bundy and stayner and the others like them are!


  3. kay~ms said

    I agree Dorian… when there is no doubt what so ever…

    I once believed that no man should have the power to play “God” and take another person’s life but then someone explained to me that the person who committed the crime made that choice to possibly end their life when they committed the crime (knowing there is a death penalty), not the person who flips the switch or judge or jury or governor who refuses a stay of execution.


  4. obama the antichrist said

    this man deserves more than the death penalty i like dorians suggestion of torture! have him castrated!


  5. kay~ms said

    This link is supposed to let you hear part of Denise’s 911 call but it looks like CNN has changed it and it now shows King’s verdict. Below the video screen is 3 more links and the last one has the actual 911 call ( a portion of it).


    This is of particular interest to me because I learned from a neighbor shortly after this happened that a mutual neighbor was the actual 911 operator who took her call. I never go to know her that well. I was never particularly fond of this neighbor I have to admit. And if you listen to the call it does reflect her attitude as I remember her.

    This has always been one of my “gripes”…911 operators who seem incompetant. They never seem to get that it is an emergency. I always feel like they could be much more effective in the way they handled their call. One thing they NEVER seem to do is immediately let the caller know that help is on the way… THAT is why the person is calling…every second counts! instead they ask a series of routine questions and when the caller gets even more upset that is when they say..”calm down Mrs. so and so help is on the way”.

    This 911 operator (my ex neighbor) actually asks if Denise can get the perpetrator to turn down his radio!


  6. Princessxxx said

    read my book, “A Thousand Tortures For Every Occasion”.

    kay, this happened right in your backyard almost.
    anyway, kay, the 911 operator with the attitude, that is prevalant in all of the “law enforcement” in our area. it’s a real problem.
    southern rednecks. stupid southern rednecks.

    i’m surprised you believe in the death penalty kay, i would think you would want them to have a chance to turn their lives around and find jesus and all that nonsense, like “son of sam” david berkowitz did.

    but speaking of the death penalty, did you guys realize that old testament jews could put their own children to death if the child curses them? that’s what i call late term abortion. so i guess the death penalty is biblical.

    so i say “yes” give the death penalty to bush & cheney, then we can concern ourselves with getting rid of the other murderers later.


  7. Pokeyerhotass said

    OMG….that killer looks just like Gail….


  8. kay~ms said

    Yes, it would be nice if these people would turn themselves around and find God. King will have plenty of time with apeals and everything to do that. My guess is, it won’t happen though.

    We also had another similar crime and trial several years ago here… JOseph Smith (weird coincendence ) who killed 11 year old Carlie Brucia. The notorious abduction that was actually caught on video tape. That happened right here in Sarasota. My daughter worked at that very car wash (on Bee Ridge rd) and had left that job just one week before that happened. Ironically both of these men look so similar AND are originally from up north. I guess we need to put up signs at the county line saying “vicious narcisistic animals not allowed… please go crawl under a rock and die.”



  9. kay~ms said

    P, I agree with you about the stupid southern rednecks but for all the people who aren’t familiar with Florida, it isn’t as bad (concentrated) as say Alabama. I always find it so interesting when I go to the mall and overhear just as many foreign languages being spoken as I do English almost and that’s not including Spanish. But we have probably more northerners than natives living here. My ex neighbor is from up north I believe. But speaking of stupid southern rednecks… ironically I was just watching yesterday the movie “My cousin Vinny”. Another great movie… I love when the judge, in his southern drawl, goes… “a yoot? What’s a yoot?” Really stupidness, ignorance and bad accents have no southern or northern bounderies.


  10. Hors Service said

    Hi guys, you were waiting for a dealth penalty opponent, sorry to make you wait so long^^

    I think that in this case you let your emotions speak for you, and it’s not doing good. Sure that she is pretty and the crime was horrible, but think a bit of all the implications.

    I’m opposed to death penalty for several reasons:

    On a moral point of view, because it’s either too cruel for “little” felonies or too nice for really big ones, like here. I would prefer that he spend a lifetime understanding why he has done was bad: do you want that he stand before his creator and still doesn’t apologize?

    Secondly, I think that everyone, even the worst on this Earth, should be given a second chance. Even the murderers. Revenge is not moral, not even christian.
    I don’t believe in the “an eye for an eye” stuff. I only creates more problems among individuals.

    How do you determine that evidences are sufficient enough to use the death penalty without a doubt? What if later on, we discover that the killer was manipulated by someone else, under the influence of drugs, or mentally ill? Death Penalty means that we can’t correct the mistake if it ever shows up.

    Besides, on a political point of view, this Death Penalty could be used by dictators to eliminate opponents. No death penalty would mean that, at least, he can’t do it in a legal way.

    Having Death Penalty sides you with Iran and China on the Human Rights spectrum, and even if you’re doing it in a less political way, they’re not very nice collegues.

    While I’m all for providing combatting ennemies an efficient confronting army so they could die in the fastest way, I have trouble with the State murdering individuals, even more if it’s in this “lawfull” way.
    And NO it’s not the same as abortion. Abortion is eliminating uncompleted beings (I think the limit we have at the moment is pretty good to differenciate Being/Not Yet Being), here we’re dealing with people.

    I think that Life sentencies cover pretty well the advantages of Death sentencies, without the inconvenients: the threat is detained apart from the society and nobody has to bother with it anymore.


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