Local News

Judge reaffirms ruling: Charge against Dorman dismissed

Posted August 18, 2011 12:30 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2011 4:43 p.m. EDT

— A judge on Thursday ruled for the second time this week that charges should be dropped against a Mebane man arrested last year with the remains of a Durham woman in his backpack.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ruled Tuesday that the state withheld evidence by allowing the family of Lakiea Lacole Boxley to cremate her remains, and he ordered a murder charge against Michael Charles Dorman dismissed.

Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline sought a stay against the order, but Hudson denied it on Thursday. 

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.

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.

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

Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline argued that there was no proof 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.

The state Attorney General's office said Wednesday it will appeal Hudson's dismissal of the murder charge. The motion on Thursday was part of the appeals process. 

Hudson also ordered that Dorman be involuntarily committed. 

Dorman was in court on Thursday, but he will be transported back to an area mental health facility to undergo an evaluation.

In general, the evaluation process can take up to 72 hours, court officials said. 

"If he is a danger to himself or others, he will be committed," Campbell said. "If not, he is a regular citizen and he will be released." 

Cline argued Thursday that there were legal and public safety issues at stake in dropping the charges against Dorman.

"The defendant is a danger to the community and the public at large in that he is mentally ill," Cline's motion stated. 

Dorman has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, sexual disorder, gender identity disorder, alcohol abuse, cannabis abuse, personality disorder with antisocial borderline features and borderline intellectual functioning, according to the motion. 

Papers written by Dorman were attached to the motion. The notes detail stalking and peeping into windows and/or going into the houses of women to seek sexual gratification. He also wrote of torturing and harming people. 

"At this time, the state has no knowledge whether this is a written fantasy story or is detailing actual events," the motion stated.

Dorman pleaded guilty to several charges related to break-ins that happened in 2003 and 2004, court records show. In one case, he broke into a Hillsborough restaurant. Other cases involved the homes of women.

From one victim, he took a dress, three pairs of underwear, a blanket and a pillow. In another case, he took perfume and more clothing, including jeans, dresses, slips and camisoles.

Cline said she is specifically concerned about Dorman being released without any supervision. 

Cline added that she filed the motion so prosecutors could say they have done all they can "so nothing happens to another citizen."