Saturday, April 19, 2008

Woman's accused killer told authorities he was kidnap victim

SARASOTA, Fla. A man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a young mother has never admitted any wrongdoing, even claiming that someone else abducted him and the woman, according to documents released Friday.

Michael Lee King, 36, has apparently told investigators nothing else since he was arrested for the slaying of Denise Amber Lee, 21, in January. He invoked his right to an attorney almost immediately after he was pulled over while police were still searching for Lee.

DNA evidence links King to Lee's killing, investigators said. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for King if he is convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

The case has sparked criticism of 911 dispatchers in Charlotte County, who failed to dispatch a deputy after a motorist called and described the precise location of King's car. Lee was seen visibly struggling in the back seat.

King's attorney had tried to block Friday's statement release, but a judge ruled that they were not admissions of guilt. His public defender declined to comment on the release.

Nowhere in the 38 pages of documents does King acknowledge harming Lee. Most are interviews with people who knew him or detectives' reports.

King told authorities, "I was a victim too," according to the documents. Investigators then drove King around as he claimed to retrace his movements. He said he was blindfolded and shoved in a trunk, and could barely hear a woman's voice through earplugs.

"Yes, a guy took me and that girl and I was tied up and had a hood over my head, and he kept telling me to stay down," he told detectives.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper who pulled over King's green Chevrolet Camaro immediately doubted his claims, noting that his pants were wet from the waist down.

Prosecutors suspect King abducted Lee from her North Port home, leaving her two young children alone. They suspect he raped Lee, shot her in the head and dumped her body in a shallow grave.

Investigators have found no connection between King and Lee, who is the daughter of a Charlotte County sheriff's official.

King repeated the claims that he was abducted to a fellow jail inmate, claiming he and Lee were "hijacked." The inmates were on suicide watch at the time.

Two dispatchers were briefly suspended for their handling of the 911 call, Lee's husband is planning a lawsuit and lawmakers are contemplating new legislation that would create statewide training standards for 911 operators.

No comments: