DURHAM — A court stenographer will be finishing up a murder transcript in a Durham jail cell, or she'll remain there indefinitely. Pat McMann-Byrd has refused to complete the work she was hired to do, forcing a judge to have her taken into custody for contempt of court.
Durham County deputies traveled about 700 miles to Florida to apprehend McMann-Byrd at her home. She appeared in court Wednesday to explain why she hasn't finished the job.
Earlier, she had said the reason she hasn't completed transcribing the tapes of the Todd Boggess murder trial was because she had not been paid what she was promised by the courts. Now, she says that's not the only reason. She says she is physically unable to complete the transcripts as the result of injuries sustained in three automobile accidents since the trial.
In courthouse hallways, people are saying this is a very unusual case. Boggess was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Wilmington teen. The absence of transcriptscouldmean that death penalty might not stand. The strangeness of the situation was reflected in the courtroom Wednesday.
McMann-Byrd said in court that the judge's charges against her are unfair.
Judge Orlando Hudson took a no-nonsense stance with McMann-Byrd. He told her she would remain incarcerated until he had the transcripts.
Hudson was blunt with his final ruling, as he sent her back to jail.
Also Wednesday, McMann-Byrd requested and got a court-appointed lawyer to represent her.
She is charged with criminal contempt, obstructing justice, converting state property to her own use, embezzlement and extortion of state money. She remains jailed under $500,000 bond.
McMann-Byrd was ordered arrested after missing a state Supreme Court deadline for completing the transcript of the trial of Todd Boggess. The transcript is needed so Boggess can appeal his death sentence.