NORTH PORT (FOX 13) - The man convicted of abducting and killing a 21-year-old mother and wife is appealing his death sentence as part of the ripple-effect felt by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Florida's sentencing is unconstitutional.
Denise Amber Lee was taken from her family's North Port home in 2008. Investigators said she did everything she could think of to save her life fighting her attacker to the very end.
The void in her husband, Nathan Lee's heart is too deep to ever be filled. It has been that way for eight long years.
"It is hard every day. Waking up, Denise isn't there," he said. "The boys wake up and they don't have their mom."
A jury found Michael King guilty of her murder and sentenced him to death.
Now, cases like King's are being reviewed because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Florida's death penalty sentencing process is unconstitutional. It said the method gives too much power to judges who are not bound by the jury's vote.
"Initially, I wasn't concerned because it was such a clear-cut case with a unanimous jury verdict. It seemed the trial was run so well," said Nathan.
During a scheduled hearing on another issue, King's lawyer appealed the death sentence, saying it should be changed to life without parole. The court did not rule on that, leaving Lee's family at a standstill.
"I don't think he deserves all these rights, but that's not the way the system works. I think about what Denise went through and what he did to her. It's really tough, but I understand there is a system in place. We have to respect that and hope it works," said Nathan.
He said he's convinced King's sentence will stand. The jury's decision was unanimous.
However, he worries that new hearings and appeals will slow things down for King's case and hundreds of others as well.
"It is devastating to think about the pain that all these families, you think about 300 or 400 people on death row and how many families they effect, and it's going to rehash all these things for those families again," Nathan explained.
Nathan said he focuses on the foundation he created in his wife's memory and remains hopeful justice for her stand.
"I hope he is going to get the death penalty. That is what he deserves. He deserves worse, in my opinion, but we will see what happens," said Nathan.