Local News

Murder charge tossed in case of bones in backpack

Posted August 16, 2011

— A judge on Tuesday dismissed a murder charge against a Mebane man arrested last year with the remains of a Durham woman in his backpack.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ruled that the state withheld evidence by allowing the family of Lakiea Lacole Boxley to cremate her remains.

Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline immediately said she would appeal the ruling.

Michael Charles Dorman, 33, of 1411 Sundown Drive, was arrested in July 2010 after one of his friends told investigators that Dorman admitted to killing a prostitute and asked him to help dispose of her remains. Prosecutors said Dorman told investigators that he only found the remains and planned to use them for his sexual gratification.

Boxley, 31, had been missing since March 2008, and an autopsy determined that she might have been shot in the head.

Defense attorney Lawrence Campbell asked that the charges against Dorman be dismissed because critical evidence in the case had been destroyed.

State law requires remains to be returned to families once a medical examiner's investigation into the cause of death is complete, North Carolina Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Deborah Radisch testified.

Campbell said the medical examiner was finished with Boxley's remains weeks before they were released to her family in South Carolina. He argued that the Durham Police Department allowed the remains to be destroyed only after securing a murder indictment against Dorman last September, and he pointed to an email in which a police investigator gave his approval on the release as evidence that the State Medical Examiner's Office consulted with police in the case.

Cline argued that there was no evidence that police or the medical examiner's office "acted in bad faith" in turning the remains over to Boxley's family. A court order to preserve evidence in the case was a "generic motion" filed in every felony case, she said, noting that any concerns about the remains weren't raised until after the family had already cremated them.

Latifah White, sister of Lakiea Boxley Sister says she decided to cremate slain Durham woman's remains

Boxley's older sister, Latifah White, testified that she had Boxley's remains cremated last September. Nobody from the Durham Police Department or Durham County District Attorney's Office suggested the cremation, she said.

”I felt real bad because, as a big sister, I didn’t think I did my job of protecting my little sister,” White said. "It was very hurting that I couldn’t see my sister or couldn’t come back for my sister when she needed me. I wanted to cremate her to let her know I would never leave her."

Under Campbell's cross-examination, White said she talked to police investigators and a victim's advocate in the police department dozens of times before the remains were finally released to her.

"I still don’t know who released them, but I’m glad they did," she said.

White was emotional at times during her testimony. She is legally blind, and at one point, she asked Hudson if she could take off the sunglasses she normally wears.

"Dorman is looking at me, and I really want (him) to see (me),” she said.

The state Victims Compensation Services office paid more than $2,700 for the cremation, and Campbell pointed out Monday that local law enforcement must determine that a victim is innocent before the state agency will pick up the tab for something like that.

Cline said the state agency has nothing to do with investigations and doesn't get permission from prosecutors to pay for cremations.

Hudson ordered that Dorman remain in custody under an involuntary commitment until he could be evaluated to determine whether he is a threat to himself.

Cline asked Hudson to order the State Medical Examiner's Office to hold all remains involving homicides in Durham County, but the judge said the handling of remains needs to be on a case-by-case basis.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Bartmeister Aug 19, 2011

    Time for Hudson to go.

  • scifion Aug 17, 2011

    >>"I think that the judge may have saved the DA. He dismissed murder charges. The only evidence of murder is the friends statement. That would surely be ruled as hearsay.

    However, the Judge ruled that he remain in custody to ensure that he does not pose harm to himself. He as been in custody for over a year, surely that has been assertained by now. This will allow them to hold him until the DA files new charges."


    to the folks screaming and breying over liberal judges and convicting on the accused looks and the fact he had bones in his backpack: you really need to learn to apply logic correctly. All they've got him for now is the posession of the deceased and failure to report it. So he's a freak. What they don't have is motive, nor hard physical evidence that he pulled the trigger. Yes, he should be STRONGLY suspected, but that doesn't mean that someone else could have pulled the trigger and set him up for the fall knowing he was a freak. He may yet get tried for murder

  • Jenb64 Aug 17, 2011

    I wonder what people consider "beyond a reasonable doubt" anymore. If I was on a jury and I heard that this man was carrying remains around in his backpack, I would consider it "beyond a reasonable doubt" that he killed her, just so he could have some human remains for his creepy "gratification".

    Still don't understand the Casey Anthony jury, either. No matter how many alternate ideas her lawyer threw around, not reporting her baby missing for 30 days (and only once her mother called the cops, btw.) = beyond a reasonable doubt for me.

  • johnniepettiford Aug 17, 2011

    I think that the judge may have saved the DA. He dismissed murder charges. The only evidence of murder is the friends statement. That would surely be ruled as hearsay.

    However, the Judge ruled that he remain in custody to ensure that he does not pose harm to himself. He as been in custody for over a year, surely that has been assertained by now. This will allow them to hold him until the DA files new charges.

  • BadDayforButch Aug 17, 2011

    Another classic mess up by the DA's office and law enforcement in Durham.

  • Minxi23 Aug 17, 2011

    "One thing nags a bit. Dorman said he killed a prostitute (to his friend). Was the victim a prostitute?"-EverythingTicksMeOff

    That's exactly what I was thinking. I don't remember reading it in the original article, but who knows...I might have overlooked it.

  • Minxi23 Aug 17, 2011

    "people trust an autopsy all the time. This is just another loop hole in the justice system." - Insane in the left lane

    I promise I'm not trying to argue, I'm genuinely interested in why you think an autopsy is another loop hole in the justice system?

    I've always believed that an autopsy is the most important part in solving a murder. Once you find out how the victim was killed, you can narrow down the rest of evidence or it opens doors to other questions/possibilities regarding the case. Everyone has their own opinion and is entitled to it, so I'm always open to hear others' perspectives on this topic.

  • airbornemonty Aug 17, 2011

    There are people here dumping on the judge for dismissing the murder charge but what I see is that he was only following the rules of law.

    Having said that, I conclude that the people to blame are the authorities that released the victims remains to her relative and she innocently had them creamated.

    I don't know that much about the law but it seems to me that the victims remains would be evidence in a murder trial and don't you save the evidence until the trial is over?
    I believe that every state saves the evidence except for Florida and now North Carolina.

  • injesuswecanwin Aug 17, 2011

    What in the world is wrong with our judicial system?!! The man confessed to killing her! The more I read the news now-a-days, it makes me wonder if the whole world has gone mad.

  • KermitDFrog Aug 17, 2011

    Great work... maybe when he kills the next person, we'll get it right.