Local News

Duke Lacrosse Investigation Focus Of Durham DA Candidate Debate

Posted April 12, 2006 12:44 p.m. EDT
Updated December 9, 2006 5:23 p.m. EST

— Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong's media exposure might be a big advantage if things go his way. But now the public spotlight is starting to rub off on his two challengers

At a forum early Wednesday evening, the three candidates for Durham County district attorney fielded questions about law, morality and the community. But all roads seemed to lead back to an ongoing rape investigation involving an exotic dancer and Duke University's men's lacrosse team, and the nationwide attention focused on Nifong and his handling of the case.

"Where Mr. Nifong made a decision that he had enough evidence to make an arrest, if I had enough evidence to make an arrest, there would have been an arrest," said district attorney candidate Keith Bishop.

"The reason that I took this case is because this case says something about Durham that I'm not going to let be said," said Nifong. "I'm not going to allow Durham's view in the minds of the world to be a bunch of lacrosse players at Duke raping a black girl from Durham."

The national attention is now filtering to his opponents, who say it is doing the incumbent more harm than good.

"It's exposing this DA's competence, or lack thereof," Bishop said. "Because going out promising the public that one, he'll make an arrest, and two, the DNA will conclusively establish the perpetrator, indicates an amateurish analysis."

"I believe because of the public sentiment at present, and the public criticism; hopefully, we'll have a better turnout then ever as far as this primary goes," said district attorney candidate Freda Black.

All three candidates are Democrats, which means the winner of the May 2 primary will be the next District Attorney.