Local News

Durham DA's private life at issue in murder case

Posted June 2, 2011 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2011 6:07 p.m. EDT

— The private life of Durham County's district attorney was part of the focus of a pre-trial hearing Thursday in the case of a man charged with murder in a fatal stabbing last year.

Lisa Anderson Williams, a defense attorney for Robert Lewis Lyons, wanted to know the nature of a personal relationship between District Attorney Tracey Cline and the case's lead investigator, Antonio Gill.

But Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner, who was called in to hear the matter, ruled that the issue is irrelevant to the case and won't allow questions about whether Cline and Gill are romantically involved.

Cline is not prosecuting the case, and Gill said in court Thursday that he has never discussed it with her.

Cline has not said publicly if she and Gill are romantically involved, but documents from the North Carolina State Bar indicate that Cline did ask on two occasions if there were any ethical implications to her dating a Durham police officer.

Those documents are usually treated as confidential, but Cline waived confidentiality to allow the State Bar to answer media questions about the matter.

The two have been dating for 15 years, according to the documents, and she first inquired about the matter while an assistant district attorney. The second inquiry was last month.

The Bar advised Cline that dating an officer was not a conflict of interest, but it suggested she not prosecute cases where he is involved.

A spokeswoman for the Durham Police Department said there is no department policy about officers dating prosecutors.

Lyons was arrested in July 2010 in the death of Tony Montrel Burns, 23, who was stabbed during a fight. The state is not seeking the death penalty.