Jurors in murder trial to be quizzed about Duke lacrosse case
Posted November 6, 2013
Durham, N.C. — A Superior Court judge said Wednesday that he would include questions about 2006 rape allegations against Duke University lacrosse players in a questionnaire for potential jurors in an upcoming Durham murder trial.
Crystal Mangum, 34, is charged in the April 2011 death of Reginald Daye. Jury selection in her trial is scheduled to start next Tuesday.
Mangum is most known for her March 2006 claim that three players on the Duke lacrosse team trapped her inside a bathroom at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., where she was performing as a stripper at a team party, and raped and sexually assaulted her. Her story about the incident was so inconsistent that Attorney General Roy Cooper later declared the players innocent, saying there was no credible evidence against them.
During a pre-trial motions hearing Wednesday, defense attorney Daniel Meier asked that potential jurors be questioned individually so as not to taint anyone with limited knowledge about the Duke lacrosse case.
"You run the risk, if you have the whole jury in here, that someone may make comments that will prejudice the jury panel or that will educate others on how to get off the case," Meier told Judge Paul Ridgeway. "We need an easier environment for the jury to discuss their feelings comfortably."
Durham County Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks argued that Mangum and her supporters have generated much of the publicity surrounding the Duke lacrosse case in recent years.
"She has generated a majority of the information to the media. She shouldn't benefit from it now by getting individual voir dire," Coggins-Franks said.
Ridgeway rejected the notion of questioning people one by one, saying everyone in the 70-person jury pool would get a questionnaire to determine their exposure to the earlier case and whether they could put aside any personal opinions about Mangum to fulfill their civic duty as jurors. Jurors would then be brought into the courtroom in groups of 12 for more questioning, he said.
Prosecutors also will be prohibited from mentioning the Duke lacrosse case during the trial, with the possible exception of challenging Mangum's credibility as a witness, Ridgeway ruled.
"From our perspective, Duke lacrosse is completely unrelated to this case," Meier said.
Mangum is claiming self-defense in Daye's stabbing, alleging it was a case of domestic violence.
Daye, 46, was stabbed with a kitchen knife during an argument at his Durham apartment, police said. He and Mangum had been dating for about a month at the time of his death.
Meier asked that Daye not be referred to as a victim during the trial.
Coggins-Franks responded that Daye was a stabbing victim.
Ridgeway said he usually refers to someone as "an alleged victim," but he doesn't want to force prosecutors or witnesses to follow his lead.
After the hearing, Meier said he simply wants to limit linking the Duke lacrosse case to the murder trial as much as possible.
"We are going to limit it as far as evidentiary portion, but it will be key to jury selection," he said. "We can't avoid it. Every one of your stories is going to mention it. We can't avoid it, so obviously, it's our job to minimize the impact and make sure people can still be fair."
He said he never planned to move the trial out of Durham.
"We trust the citizens of Durham, and while there is a lot of notoriety, it does tend to cut both ways," he said. "We believe she does have the supporters and the people who can set it aside. She is from Durham. This case is all about Durham. So, we just wanted to keep it here."