SARASOTA — Wanting to show 2-month-old Adam’s latest breakthrough — that he could lift his head on his own — Denise Amber Lee made a cell phone video of her baby. She said, “Look, Noah, (your brother) Adam is holding his head up.” Noah, 14 months, joyfully danced around the room.
It was Denise’s way of sharing with her husband, Nathan, how the boys progressed during the day while he was at work. She would proudly show off her footage to Nathan at night at their North Port home.
Today, Nathan, 25, will tell stories of how Denise impacted the lives of her young sons and others. Nathan will read his four-minute victim impact statement as part of the sentencing phase of Michael King’s trial.
On Friday, King, 38, was found guilty of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Denise, 21, in January 2008.
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Denise’s mother, Susan Goff, also prepared a statement on behalf of the family. Her husband, Rick, will read it.
Rick said he doesn’t have sympathy for King, whose attorneys say suffered a brain injury years ago from a sledding accident in Michigan and should receive life in prison instead of the death penalty in the capital case. Assistant Public Defender Carolyn Schlemmer said King also suffers from ringing in his ears.
“Life in prison is too good for him,” Rick said. “Why should he get letters from his child or his family? My family can’t speak to Denise anymore. The wounds will never be closed.”
Prior to the trial, King was examined by three doctors — one hand-picked by his attorney, another by prosecutors and one ordered by the court. King also had a PET scan, which measures brain activity, to determine the possibility of brain disorders.
During an emergency hearing Monday at the Sarasota County Courthouse, Schlemmer asked that 12th Judicial Circuit Judge Deno Economou not allow the state’s medical expert to discuss facts of the murder case relating to King’s competency evaluation.
Assistant State Attorney Lon Arend argued the state’s expert should be allowed to discuss the case with King. Economou ruled to allow the state’s expert to evaluate King, but he could not talk about the case.
“I don’t buy it — the crazy act,” Rick said. “He got hit in the head sledding when he was 6 years old and that has caused him to kill years later ... Yet, he got married, had a son, bought a home, refinanced it and then went through foreclosure. He worked a plumbing job and bought cars. He lived a very productive life.”
Nathan said the judge’s Monday ruling limited the family in what they could say.
“I understand the legal system, but I think it’s unfair that I don’t have the right to say what a wonderful, selfless wife and mother Denise was.
“I’m not allowed to call him a murderer even though he was found guilty,” Lee said.
Lee said the families “strongly favor the death penalty.”
King’s father is recovering from open-heart surgery in Michigan. King’s attorneys have arranged for his mother to testify via video feed.
Two of King’s brothers might also testify on his behalf.
Locally, King’s relatives aren’t willing to talk about his childhood.
Family members said they have no comment on the case.
King’s sentencing begins at 10 a.m. today.