Local News

Mangum on stabbing: 'I was just trying to survive'

Posted November 20, 2013 11:30 a.m. EST
Updated November 21, 2013 1:08 p.m. EST

— Crystal Mangum tearfully told jurors Wednesday that she stabbed her boyfriend two years ago to protect herself as he beat her in a drunken rage.

Mangum, 34, is charged with murder in the April 3, 2011, stabbing of Reginald Daye. He died 10 days later of complications at Duke University Hospital.

Closing arguments in the trial are set for Thursday morning after the defense wrapped up its case in less than a day.

Mangum, the first witness called by defense attorney Daniel Meier, spent almost two hours going over details of her relationship with Daye and the night he was stabbed.

She said she met Daye in January 2011 when he was painting a room in a friend's house. He said he was looking for a roommate to help with the rent, and she decided to move in with her three children.

The couple started out as friends but gradually began a romantic relationship, she said, adding that Daye became more possessive over time, even dictating that she had to spend a certain amount of time with him.

"It slowly evolved into a relationship," she testified. "It was moving too fast. ... I tried to slow him down, but he knew what he wanted."

On April 2, 2011, Daye had been drinking all day when the couple went to a party that night at his aunt's house, Mangum said. When they returned home after midnight, she said, she approached a Durham police officer she knew who was helping tow a car from the apartment complex parking lot.

Daye then flew into a rage, she said.

"I'd never seen him that angry," she testified. "He said I was disrespecting him because I was talking to other men."

Daye struck her repeatedly while they were inside the apartment, knocking her to the floor.

"I opened up my home to you and your kids, and this is how you treat me?" Mangum said Daye screamed at her. "How dare you treat me like that, you ungrateful (expletive)?"

Mangum said she lay down on the bed in an effort to placate Daye, but he jumped on top of her, pinned her down and scratched her face. He told her he wanted to make her unattractive to other men, she said.

"Every time I tried to say something, he just got more angry," she said.

Daye dragged her off the bed onto the floor and hit her again, she said, and he then ran to the kitchen and returned with knives that he began throwing at her. She said she first hid behind the mattress and then ran into the bathroom and locked the door.

Mangum said Daye kicked open the door, grabbed her by her hair and dragged her back to the bed, where he began to choke her.

"I tried to push him off, but he was too strong," she testified. "I grabbed a knife and poked him in the side.

"I was just trying to survive. I felt like Reginald was trying to kill me."

A police investigator who interviewed Daye in the hospital before he died testified Tuesday that he told her he had ordered Mangum out of the apartment because he was tired of her bringing other men over. He acknowledged kicking open the bathroom door and dragging her out by her hair during the argument.

The investigator said that Daye told her he had demanded that Mangum return two money orders he had given her to pay the rent and that he was was trying to get away from her during the argument when she stabbed him.

Mangum testified that she fled the apartment and ran to a friend's home nearby, where police later arrested her. She said she called 911 to report the stabbing only after some friends persuaded her to do so.

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Charlene Franks hammered at Mangum's inability to recall details of that night that jibed with other testimony but didn't support her story that Daye had attacked her.

Franks suggested that, after a bleeding Daye ran from the apartment to seek help, Mangum staged the scene to make it look like she had been assaulted. Mangum denied that, but she was unable to explain why paramedics who checked her out after her arrest found no evidence that she had been beaten or choked.

"You seem to have problems with men all the time, don't you?" Franks asked.

She noted Mangum similarly attacked Milton Walker, a previous boyfriend, in February 2010, but she made only a passing reference to the case most closely associated with Mangum.

Mangum made national headlines in March 2006 when she claimed that three players on the Duke University lacrosse team trapped her inside a bathroom when 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.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway prohibited Franks from mentioning the Duke lacrosse case during the trial, except to impeach Mangum's credibility.

Domestic violence expert Kit Gruelle testified that Mangum has been in numerous abusive relationships over the years. Men routinely controlled and threatened her, said Gruelle, who interviewed Mangum and reviewed the police reports in the case.

Ridgeway prevented Gruelle from testifying as to whether Mangum's past relationships affected her actions in Daye's stabbing or whether those actions were consistent with those of an abuse victim. The judge said Gruelle didn't have enough academic training and hadn't conducted enough research to offer such a "diagnosis."

Franks challenged Gruelle's conclusion that Mangum was a victim, noting that she was the aggressor against Walker.

"I think there was violence going both ways in that relationship," Gruelle said of Mangum and Walker.

"So, she also was an abuser as well as a victim?" Franks asked.

"I think that's right," Gruelle replied.

Franks suggested that Gruelle blindly accepted Mangum's word on what happened when Daye was stabbed and determined that she was the victim and Daye was the abuser when it could have been the other way around.

She called Mary Outterbridge, who lived with Daye for the better part of a decade, to rebut the notion that Daye was abusive.

"Reggie never hit me. He never raised his hand to me," Outterbridge said. "He wasn't a violent person."