Opinions on Duke lacrosse case affect jury selection in Durham trial
Posted November 12, 2013
Updated November 13, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Jury selection began Tuesday in the murder trial of Crystal Mangum, who is charged in the April 2011 death of her 46-year-old boyfriend.
According to investigators, Mangum stabbed Reginald Daye with a kitchen knife during an argument at his Durham apartment. He died several days later.
Mangum claims she stabbed Daye in self defense and alleges it was a case of domestic violence. The couple had been dating for about a month at the time of his death.
Defense attorney Daniel Meier asked that the trial be delayed until a state investigation into former deputy chief medical examiner Dr. Clay Nichols is completed, but Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied the motion.
Nichols, who performed the autopsy on Daye, was fired last week amid a State Bureau of Investigation review of his work. Authorities received a tip in September that Nichols mishandled evidence in another 2011 autopsy.
"The subject matter of that investigation does not relate in anyway to this case," Ridgeway said. "I've requested both the SBI agent and the (Orange County) district attorney provide me with any updates that their opinion in that changes."
Mangum made national headlines in March 2006 when she claimed that three players on the Duke University 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.
Ridgeway included questions about the 2006 allegations in a questionnaire for potential jurors to determine whether they have been exposed to the Duke lacrosse case and whether they could put aside any personal opinions about Mangum to weigh the evidence in the murder trial fairly.
Seven jurors were seated Tuesday, but more than twice as many, 15, were excused from the jury pool after saying that their opinions about Mangum and the Duke lacrosse case would prevent them from giving her a fair trial.
Irving Joyner, a law professor at North Carolina Central University, said he doubts Mangum will get a fair trial, but he said it all comes down to who is picked for the jury.
"It's going to be impossible, I think, to have a jury where people don't know her or know anything about her," Joyner said. "(They need) someone who is able to put that aside and look at the evidence that's presented and weigh it out."
During the trial, prosecutors will be prohibited from mentioning the Duke lacrosse case, with the possible exception of challenging Mangum's credibility as a witness, Ridgeway has ruled.