Sunday, May 9, 2010

Making a big deal out of a little fire: the Mangum arson timeline

The following information has been obtained from fire records, police reports, and other documents that are accessible by the public. Data from these papers are used to set up an accurate account of what transpired during the night of February 17, 2010, and early morning of February 18, 2010 at the Durham apartment that was rented by the Duke Lacrosse accuser Crystal Mangum.

February 17, 2010 – evening. Crystal Mangum is at the apartment she rents with her three children. She has a dispute with her ex-boyfriend who has been staying for a short time at her apartment intermittently. Crystal’s nine year-old daughter becomes concerned about her mother’s welfare during this dispute, and places a call to 911 seeking help for her mother.

Durham Police officer H. P. Thompson arrives at the house in which the dispute is taking place, late at night on the 17th, no time of arrival is listed on the reports.

February 17, 2010 – 11:53 pm. Ms. Mangum is placed under arrest by Officer Thompson, according to the arrest report.

February 18, 2010 – 12:08:56 am. 15 minutes after Ms. Mangum’s arrest, an alarm to the Durham Fire Department is placed by the Durham Police reporting a “structure fire with a subject trapped” at the address of Crystal Mangum.

February 18, 2010 – 12:15: 10 am. 6 minutes, 14 seconds after receiving the call, Fire Engine 3 arrives on the scene. When they arrive, they find the bathroom door closed, and upon opening it notice that a fire was visible in the bathtub. With a 1 ¾ inch hose-line extending through the front door, the firemen spray water on the fire in the bathtub.

February 18, 2010 – 12:18:00 am. 2 minutes, 50 seconds after arriving on the scene, the firemen extinguish the fire in the bathtub. Although there is no indication from the fire reports or police reports that the walls, floor, or ceiling of the bathroom sustained any fire damage, the firemen pull the ceiling of the bathroom to check for extension of the fire… and find that there is none.

Engine 3 then advises command that an investigator is needed for this incident.

February 18, 2010 – 1:40:31 am. 1 hour, 22 minutes, 31 seconds after extinguishing the fire, the last unit leaves the scene.

What is not clear in any of the reports is why the police officers, upon finding the clothing on fire in the bathtub did not simply turn on the faucet or shower head and douse the fire? Instead, it seems, the police decided to close the bathroom door in hopes of slowing the spread of the fire from the bathtub to other parts of the structure. There was no mention of any fire damage to the walls, floors, or ceilings in the bathroom or anywhere else within the apartment. It seems that had the fire been extinguished by the police when they first became aware of it, any smoke damage would have been significantly minimized. The time that had elapsed from when Ms. Mangum was arrested by police until the fire was extinguished by the fire department was 25 minutes.

I am not a fireman, but I have serious questions as to why an investigator would be needed for this fire. Common sense would dictate that Ms. Mangum must have harbored some ill feelings toward her ex-boyfriend and wanted to release frustrations by setting his clothing on fire (not unlike the scene in the movie “Waiting to Exhale” in which the Angela Bassett character sets her boyfriends clothing on fire… not in a bathtub like Ms. Mangum did, but in her boyfriend’s sports car). It is obvious that by placing the ex-boyfriend’s clothing in a fireproof bathtub, that Ms. Mangum was executing a controlled burn, and had no intention of burning down the house. In lieu of a fireplace, the bathtub is the most logical place to burn someone’s clothing. Furthermore, there was no mention in any of the official reports of an accelerant being used in the fire. It makes no sense that in a fit of anger at her ex-boyfriend, Ms. Mangum would burn her residence that she shared with her three children.

If anyone acted negligently during this event, it would be the police, who instead of immediately extinguishing the fire in the bathtub upon detection, decided to close the bathroom door and call the fire department to put out the fire. Their irresponsible actions put the entire apartment building in jeopardy of being burnt to the ground. The police enabled the smoke damage to the building grow in magnitude, and the extensive smoke damage possibly forced the firemen to pull the ceiling in the bathroom. Why the reluctance on the part of the police to put out the fire? More likely than not it was to magnify the seriousness of the charges that they would lob against Ms. Mangum, the accuser of the Duke Lacrosse defendants. Their misguided motivation for acting against Ms. Mangum was in compliance with the Carpetbagger Jihad movement directed at anyone or anything on the “wrong end” of the Duke Lacrosse case.

With respect to the fire, Crystal Mangum was arrested on a felony first degree arson charge (initially five counts, then later reduced to one count). Ms. Mangum was indicted by a grand jury on the charge of first degree arson under North Carolina statute 14-58. According to that statute, a first degree arson charge is in reference to a building or a structure that is burned while inhabited. It is evident that the structure (building, or apartment) was not burned, nor was there an attempt made to burn the structure by Ms. Mangum. The blatantly false charges are vendetta-driven and make a mockery of the North Carolina justice system, its police officers, prosecutors and courts. It is past time for the Duke Lacrosse case related foolery to cease. Crystal Mangum should be immediately released from custody and the charges against her dismissed. The justice system should not be involved in lengthening her time of incarceration for the purpose of disrupting her employment situation and losing custody of her children. What is really shameful is that our system of justice is not only cruel and draconian in its workings, but that it allows the Carpetbaggers to dictate the degree of callous and inhumane treatment.

In addition to releasing Crystal Mangum, the courts should also immediately release Alan Gell, another victim of vendetta justice. Prosecutor David Hoke withheld exculpatory evidence in winning a capital murder conviction against Gell, an innocent man. After serving ten years of wrongful incarceration, Gell was set free at re-trial, and he filed lawsuits against those individuals and agencies responsible for his conviction. When law enforcement learned that he impregnated his girlfriend just prior to her turning legal age, he was convicted on some convoluted cockamamie charge and sentenced to five years. This, after serving ten years wrongfully incarcerated. Do the math: Gell wrongfully incarcerated ten years minus five year cockamamie sentence equals immediate release from prison with five years credit.


Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Sidney? said...

Sidney - In lieu of a fireplace, the bathtub is the most logical place to burn someone’s clothing.

Logical? Only in Crystal's, and your, twisted world, Sidney. My god, listen to yourself.

Shaniqua probably didn't plan on burning Fiddy Cen's house to the ground either, when she torched his tennies, but there you go.

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Sidney? said...

When law enforcement learned that he impregnated his girlfriend just prior to her turning legal age, he was convicted on some convoluted cockamamie charge and sentenced to five years.

Gell wasn't convicted, he pled guilty to the charges, Sidney.

What is legal age in NC, anyway? The girl was 15 at the time. While there might be room to argue at what age a girl is no longer jail bait, you should be careful not to come across as sounding like you think it's OK to have sex with a minor child.

kenhyderal said...

When will Crystal's charges be disposed of? Is there no time limit as to when this comes to court? Will she, possibly, have any recourse against these extreme over-charges, if they do eventually get thrown out? I'm thinking in terms of, loss of employment, interupption of her education, separation from her children etc.

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Sidney? said...

kenhyderal said -When will Crystal's charges be disposed of?

Probably sometime this summer, kenhyderal. It looks like her attorney is hoping to get her 6 mos, with time served. If she gets more, she may be moved to state jail.

Is there no time limit as to when this comes to court?

Welcome to North Carolina, ken, the state which has no speedy trial law. The DA also controls the docket, unlike any other state I have ever seen.

Reforming those two issues alone would help so many people of color and of limted means, yet folks like Sidney and the NC NAACP prefer to ignore those and make headlines when they get one person freed. Rev Barber does that because that's how he makes his money. Sidney does it because he doesn't know better.

I'm thinking in terms of, loss of employment, interupption of her education, separation from her children etc.

Employment - what job?

Education - NCCU will give her another sheepskin like they did her BA.

Children - her kids are safer now.

kenhyderal said...

Six months!! I guarantee this incident would have resulted in less then one day in gaol in Canada. It would have been dealt with in Family Court or in a Magistrate's Court the following morning resulting in a fine most likely with time to pay and if requested by the victim a no-contact order. The rate of spousal abuse is lower in Canada. 2006 statistics from the USA show 124/1000 couples/year for males,assulted and 122/1000 couples for females assulted. In Canada in that year 113/1000 not differentiated by sex

kenhyderal said...

I forgot to mention that the damaged clothing and damage to the ceiling tiles would have resulted in a restitution order.

Terre de nos aïeux said...

Well there you go....We'll just strongly encourage CGM to move to Canada. It's all good. Kenhyderal -- you hiring? IIRC, CGM will need a job offer in order to immigrate....

guiowen said...

Terre de nos aieux:
I'm afraid Kenhyderal will explain that, as a Canadian living in the U.A.E., he can't help CGM in any way.

Don't worry, this is just standard Durham justice. Did I tell you about a D.A. they had there, back in 2006? Well, it seems he was trailing in the polls, so he had three poor guys indicted on the basis of some drugged woman's testimony .... Oh, wait!!

kenhyderal said...

Guiowen said..... I'm afraid Kenhyderal will explain that as a Canadian living in the U.A.E., he can't help CGM in any way.......................................... Not correct. Guiowen let me quote myself from a previous post. "Assets I have, are not situated in the U.S.A and are, therefore, not eligible to secure a bail bond. I have never claimed to be acting on Crystal's behalf. I'm just a person who sees a gross miscarriage of justice and have chosen to speak out against it. I do remain ready to help out where I can".

JSwift said...


I wish you a Happy City of Durham Innocence Concurrence Day.

As you know, three years ago today, Durham City Manager Patrick Baker provided the Mayor and the Members of the City Council with Chief Steven Chalmers’ report on the Durham Police Department’s activities in the Duke Lacrosse case. At that time, the DPD reported to Mr. Baker.

In his cover memorandum, Mr. Baker acknowledged the City’s concurrence with the Attorney General’s decisions:

At the outset, let me acknowledge the City’s concurrence with Attorney General Roy Cooper’s decision to dismiss all of the charges against Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty as well as his declaration that these young men are innocent of the charges for which they were indicted. While the criminal proceedings against them have ended, a true and measured analysis and critique of their tortured path to justice is just beginning.

The ultimate question that will be the legacy of this matter is why it took the criminal justice system nearly thirteen months to reach the conclusion that the allegations of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping were unfounded

Mr. Baker, a trained attorney who now serves as the City Attorney, had no problem with Mr. Cooper’s declaration of innocence.

Mr. Baker also acknowledged the flawed “identification” procedure in which Ms. Mangum selected four of her three alleged attackers:

I would concur with the Attorney General that the ‘process by which the accusing witness ultimately identified David Evans, Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty was of questionable validity’… the April 4 photo process created the opportunity for the false accusations to be specifically linked to Evans, Seligmann and Finnerty… we regret the inadvertent creation of the opportunity to perpetuate false charges against these individuals.

Incredibly, the Baker memorandum and the Chalmers report place the primary blame for the decision to pursue these “false charges” on defense attorneys, who did not provide the DPD with much of the exculpatory evidence made available to the special prosecutors. This evidence included interviews with players and photographs and video recordings. As you know, Mr. Nifong rejected offers of this evidence. Neither Mr. Baker nor Mr. Chalmers claim any valid inculpatory evidence. In sum, Mr. Baker and Mr. Chalmers admit that there was, as Mr. Nifong himself has conceded, “no credible evidence” to support the charges. They excuse the DPD simply by claiming that they were unaware of how much exculpatory evidence existed.

This excuse presents a dangerous misunderstanding of the responsibility of an investigation, essentially suggesting that the police are responsible only for convicting suspects and not for solving crimes. For that reason, the report was met with immediate calls for an independent investigation.

In spite of these flaws, the Baker memorandum and Chalmers report demonstrate the moral bankruptcy of those who cling to the hope that “something happened.” As you know, these diehards provide no evidence to support their baseless claims. They merely pretend that unknown evidence exists that may have proved the allegations true. They invent wide-ranging conspiracies as they ignore that those responsible for both investigations have reached the conclusion that the players are innocent.

After an extensive investigation, Mr. Cooper and the special prosecutors concluded that there was a “lack of evidence and the additional affirmative proof that these crimes did not occur.” Mr. Baker and Mr. Chalmers concurred that “these young men are innocent... the allegations of rape, sexual assault and kidnapping were unfounded.

Today, we celebrate one instance in which justice triumphed. Sidney, I join you in the regret that justice too often does not prevail.

Nifong Supporter said...

To kenhyderal and Whatchoo:

Thank you for your interesting and insightful interaction. My blog posting on May 12, 2010 is in response.

Nifong Supporter said...

To JSwift:

You offered quite an expansive commentary about a so-called "innocence day" but you didn't touch the topic of the arson charge against Ms. Mangum. Why not? I refer you to my blog post of May 12, 2010.

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Sidney? said...

kenhyderal - Six months!! I guarantee this incident would have resulted in less then one day in gaol in Canada. It would have been dealt with in Family Court

Family courts in Canada deal with felony arson as well?

Don't ignore the arson charge, ken.

Nifong Supporter said...

To Whatchoo:

You advised kenhyderal not to ignore the arson charge, but the truth of the matter is that the arson charge is bogus. Look up the definition of first degree arson. It requires the building to be set on fire. It wasn't. Ms. Mangum executed a controlled burn in the bathtub of a few items of clothing. Nothing more. Would you have called the fire department for such a trifle?

guiowen said...

I don't understand why you call it a controlled burn. Was she standing over the bathtub, with a fire extinguisher in her hand?