Local News

Backpack bones case ends in manslaughter plea

Posted June 28, 2013

— A Mebane man pleaded guilty Friday to killing a woman several years ago and toting her remains around in a backpack.

Michael Dorman, 35, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Lakiea Lacole Boxley. He was sentenced to five to seven years in prison and was given credit for the three years he's already spent behind bars.

Dorman's case has made headlines since his July 2010 arrest. Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson's decision to dismiss the case a year later escalated a feud between him and then-Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline, which ultimately led to her ouster.

"I am not pleading guilty out of guilt but out of fear I won't get an unbiased or fair trial," Dorman said.

His arrest came after one of his friends told authorities that Dorman admitted to killing a prostitute and had asked for help disposing of her remains, which he had in a backpack. Dorman told investigators, however, that he only found the remains and planned to use them for his sexual gratification.

Assistant District Attorney said in court Friday that Dorman said he accidentally shot Boxley in the head with a shotgun after she refused to have sex with him. When that didn't kill her, however, he strangled her and put her body in a suitcase, Echols said.

Public defender Lawrence Campbell said Durham police botched the investigation, which "essentially caused this case to crash and burn."

"The state cannot prove who this woman was, where the body was found (or) where the body was allegedly murdered," Campbell said. "The state has allowed and assisted in the destruction of evidence."

Family brings woman's remains to court for killer's plea Family brings woman's remains to court for killer's plea

Boxley's family cremated her remains shortly after Dorman was indicted. Hudson ruled two years ago that Dorman was deprived a fair trial because his attorneys couldn't conduct their own tests on the bones to back up his claims.

The judge determined that Cline conspired with police and state agents to destroy evidence in the case. She then publicly accused him of corruption and trying to undermine her prosecutions, which led to her being removed from office six months later.

The state Court of Appeals overturned the decision in February and reinstated the murder charge against Dorman.

Hudson, who accepted Dorman's plea and handed down the sentence Friday, called the plea deal a "just resolution" to the case.

Boxley's family, however, said she didn't receive justice.

"It’s just unbelievable. The justice system is supposed to protect and serve, and they let this guy slip through the justice system twice," said Boxley's sister, Latifah White.

White brought her sister's remains to court in an urn Friday.

"I thought it was important for me to bring them so the judge would know I still have problems letting go," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • sweetlyght Jul 1, 2013

    This man seems fine to me. Why does this surprise anyone that he is carrying around bones in his backpack?? WE have sowed the seeds of this product. Live with it.
    lost in translation

    Easiest said if you have no relation to the victom.

  • klapa Jun 28, 2013

    This case defies imagination! The guy was walking around with dismembered parts of a human in his backpack?

    The problem WAS and IS the politics.

    When I first came here to this area in 1997 I lived in Durham. Two weeks after I was there my place was robbed and everything I had was stolen. The Durham Police did absolutely NOTHING about it. I moved to Cary and no more problems.

    Durham has a completely non-functional police force and justice system - thus people like this back out on the street maybe even three years from now.

  • welfarequeen Jun 28, 2013

    Sounds fair from a cost stand point and the resources it would take to convict or fair because of the crime? bartmeister

    Sounds fair to me for the reason that the case would really have been a pandora's box. A. The man is a nutcase and could have very easily gone for an insanity defense. B. The victim's family had her remains cremated and brought the urn into court. her BONES should have been held as evidence until after the trial was over. It may have caused the family some additional grief, but not as much as they have now by this verdict.

  • ThatGuyYetAgain Jun 28, 2013

    During the Duke LAX theatrics, Durham gained a national (likely international) reputation as a strange and tiny Third World nation in the middle of NC. Of course, our Atty General and Governor helped the Duke faculty make us all look like fools by sitting on their rears during that debacle.

    Our reputation for sophisticated, professional and impartial jurisprudence continues to grow with this jewel. Not to mention our reputation for growing our own Stephen King novel characters. I've been trying to find anybody who is NOT totally weird in this story and have failed so far.

  • Cock a doodle doo Jun 28, 2013

    This is just a disturbing case. I cannot believe it hasn't got more attention. Who walks around with a skeleton in their backpack? CRAZY!

  • thepeopleschamp Jun 28, 2013

    I bet it really bothers Judge Hudson to watch a guilty person finally go to prison. He usually likes watching them walk out the door to be released back onto society.

  • rindyelvis Jun 28, 2013

    So it was okay to murder her, if he carried her bones aroun d in his back pack? This is such an injustice to this woman, and to humans in general.

  • NC Native11 Jun 28, 2013

    Wow! I feel so bad for this family. Word is he got off light because Durham screwed up the investigation. Poor woman was treat like she was nothing.

  • ljcs357 Jun 28, 2013

    So Willow is out in 2 years...smh

  • 678devilish Jun 28, 2013

    If he did not kill her, why on earth was he lugging her bones around in his back pack? Obvious he has a mental problem.