I recently was made aware by an e-mail from a friend that the prosecution has publicly stated that it will not seek to re-try Duke Lacrosse case victim Crystal Mangum on the phony trumped up arson charge. Although I know that the Carpetbagger families and their attorneys, the higher echelon at Duke University, and the media types would love to stick Mangum with a felony, prosecutors obviously learned their lesson from the Gregory Taylor case. Prosecutor Tom Ford and Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby fought a hearing before a three judge panel in which Gregory Taylor sought to have his 17 year old murder conviction overturned. It was during his hearing that misdeeds and malfeasance by the SBI lab came to light. For whatever reason, the media, especially The News & Observer, put this issue on the front burner and went after SBI agents, lab techs, and everyone but the very prosecutors who were behind legal culture of deceit. The risk Durham prosecutors run in re-trying Ms. Mangum on the so-called “first degree arson” charge is the possible exposure of the Durham police force’s role in starting the fire. After all it was the Durham police, specifically Officer Tyler, who had the motive, means, and opportunity to set the fire… not Crystal Mangum or her ex-boyfriend.
There was never any doubt in my mind that there would not be a re-trial. Prosecutors were relieved just to get a conviction on the misdemeanor charges, which themselves had no merit. Furthermore, Durham’s Assistant D.A. Mark McCullough should send Mangum’s defense attorney Mani Dexter a couple of dozen roses or a floral bouquet of orchids for her lackluster featherweight defense of her client which allowed prosecutors to prevail on all of the measly misdemeanor charges. The majority of jurors, fortunately, did not have the heart to find Mangum guilty on the felony arson charge, especially when they most likely believed that the police were responsible for the fire. Had Joseph Cheshire been defending Mangum with the gusto he did in the Duke Lacrosse case, Officer Tyler would be charged with arson and felony fraud, the Durham Police chief would have been forced to resign, and all of the officers involved in the case would have been severely sanctioned.
I did not find it surprising that the prosecution would not re-try the case… however, what I did find surprising is that the media would actually cover the story. I never heard it mentioned on WRAL-TV 5 News, ABC-11 News, or NBC 17 News. I searched throughout the deepest recesses of most recent The News & Observer newspaper to see if I could find an article about it tucked away somewhere, but I came up empty. However, that’s what I expect from the media types. So, The Herald-Sun has some kudos coming its way… not only for covering the announcement, but for the photograph used in the online story (which was e-mailed to me). The Mangum photo was a file photo which was taken at a book signing event a couple of years ago, and was one which nicely represented her. What I expected was the usual photo with her shackled and handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit.
The article by Herald-Sun staff writer John McCann followed national media protocol with its obligatory misleading statement “The players were later completely exonerated.” Mr. McCann is not stupid, and neither is the staff at The Herald-Sun, but they think its readers are. This so-called “exoneration” is based solely on Attorney General Roy Cooper’s April 11, 2007 “Innocence Promulgation.” This is a big lie that the biased media has tried to stuff down the public’s throat for years, and it is shameful.
The article also downplays Mangum’s supporter Jackie Wagstaff’s opinions about the criminal charges by writing, “Ms. Wagstaff was of the mindset Mangum never started the fire.” Of course, and there are many people who believe that Mangum did not set the fire… but the media doesn’t want the people to know that. And if Ms. Mangum did not set the fire, then that leaves the police as the likely culprits. What also focuses the light on police as instigators of the fire is that no effort was expended to extinguish the blaze. Police wanted there to be just enough fire damage to the building to support a felony charge. Had police not been responsible for setting the fire they would have reacted like any other reasonable person and at least turned on water in the bathtub.
McCann also documented the following: “The forewoman on that jury said the charges against Mangum seemed too harsh in light of the evidence presented.” That they were and it begs the question, why was she convicted? The three count charge of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” was directly, but convolutedly, tied to the arson charge. Logic is defied by her not being guilty of the arson charge, yet being convicted on the child delinquency charges… and the judge rightfully returned full custody of her children to Ms. Mangum after he declared a mistrial on the only unresolved felony charge. And the media has also stayed away from the alleged damages to the ex-boyfriend’s car. Questions abound as to the number of articles of clothing burned and the owner of clothes placed in the bathtub. This covert operation performed by the Durham police to trump up a felony charge against Ms. Mangum turned out to be a sticky mess from which prosecutors were fortunate to extricate themselves and the men in blue.
What began with a rabid flourish in the media about an attempted first degree murder, identity theft, communicating threats, assault, child abuse and arson slunk out meekly in the dead of night when the final page was turned in this sordid chapter of Tar Heelian justice wherein a young lady who was independent, employed, self-sufficient in raising her three children, and enrolled in graduate school for a master’s degree had her life suddenly and unjustly snatched from her. The volume of the media’s outlet on this subject has been muted by their gradual realization that what was heralded initially as a serious criminal case was more likely than not a piece of fiction that was staged. Phony.
NOTE: A link is presented below to Part 4 of Episode V of “The MisAdventures of Super-Duper Cooper.” Following the strip is a commentary about installment presented.