Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Another featherweight defense for Crystal Mangum in her upcoming trial for the murder of Reginald Daye?
Running time: 25 minutes
NOTE: Click the link above to access the flog, or read the script below.
Tracy E. Cooper was a correctional officer with fifteen years of service in the state of Illinois. Tragically, on September 28, 2010, at the age of 42, Officer Cooper passed away. Records acquired online state that he died as a result of an assault that was alleged to have occurred months earlier.
According to documents, on January 25, 2010, Cooper escorted a convicted felon to court, at which time the judge ordered for the felon to be unshackled. Upon being freed from his bonds, the young man bolted in an attempt to escape. Officer Cooper subdued the would-be fugitive by wrestling the convict to the floor, during which time he injured his left shoulder.
When his traumatized left shoulder failed to heal, it was later determined that Cooper had torn his left rotator cuff. Approximately eight months later Cooper underwent surgery to repair the damaged shoulder. Unfortunately he never emerged from the general anesthesia, and he was pronounced dead the following day.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has recorded the cause of death to be an “assault” and the weapon used, a “person.” In other words, the inmate who attempted to flee in January 2010 is being held responsible for the death of the correctional officer in September 2010… eight months later.
I have a problem with this reasoning on many levels. My reading of the incident suggests that the inmate was attempting to escape and that Correctional Officer Cooper executed his job appropriately by its prevention. The injury to Cooper’s left shoulder was plainly work-related and not a result of an assault. It might be different had the inmate charged at Cooper and knocked him to the ground… but that did not happen.
In addition, it is obvious that the proximate cause of Officer Cooper’s death was due to a complication in surgery, most likely due to a problem with the administration of the anesthesia. The injury sustained eight months earlier had nothing to do with Cooper’s passing.
With Cooper’s death being attributed to the incident eight months prior, and it being deemed to be due to an assault, then the inmate, for attempting to flee the courtroom, could be charged with murder… a totally ridiculous and inappropriate charge.
This is the same emotionally irrational logic used in Reginald Daye’s death. The stab wound by Crystal Mangum had absolutely nothing to do with Daye’s death… and everyone knows it, including the prosecutors, the medical personnel at Duke University Hospital, the medical examiners, and the media.
A stab wound made by a paring knife that only damaged the splenic flexure of the colon should have been easily managed without residual effects… Reginald Daye should have made a full recovery.
The pathetic autopsy reports purposely shed no light on the cause of death in Daye’s case, giving us no more information than was initially available from the media on April 13, 2011… that Daye sustained a stab wound, and that he died. For the medical examiner to say that he died of “complications of a stab wound” provides not a scintilla of enlightenment. The links connecting the stab wound to Daye’s death ten days later are omitted… again, on purpose.
I no more agree with the Illinois DOC that the cause of Tracy Cooper’s death was due to an assault eight months earlier, than I do with Durham Assistant District Attorney Kelly Gauger’s position that the stab wound to Reginald Daye resulted in his demise ten days later. The cause of death in both cases is folly and lacks serious merit and consideration.
The amazing cases of Cory Harrison and Joshua Wrenn
On life support, twenty-one year-old Cory Harrison was not expected to come out of the coma, and his doctor in Spain recommended that no heroic measures be taken if he were to contract a life threatening infection. The coma was the result of severe head trauma he sustained when he landed on it after falling from a second story balcony onto a cobblestone pavement while working at a summer job in Spain. In addition to a skull fracture, he had fractures of his ribs and vertebrae.
Although many neurological practitioners did not expect him to recover consciousness, Cory Harrison did just that… but only after more than seven weeks in a comatose state. Currently he is undergoing rehab and physical therapy to help him regain use of his extremities and the ability to speak. Because he was not pulled off life-support prematurely, Cory had the opportunity to emerge from his comatose state.
On April 3, 2011, 29 year-old Joshua Martin Wrenn was arrested on a warrant for assaulting his wife. Shortly after being booked, Wrenn was involved in an altercation with correction officials during which he lost consciousness. He, like Reginald Daye, was taken to Duke University Hospital and placed on life support in its intensive care unit.
Doctors told Wrenn’s mother, Kathy Treadway, that her son was brain dead. However, on the advice of an attorney, the family would not allow doctors to remove him from life support… because that would prevent them from filing a lawsuit against the state for inflicting wounds that rendered Joshua comatose.
Then, on May 30, 2011, approximately eight weeks after being beaten into unconsciousness, Wrenn surprisingly emerged from the coma… no longer requiring the ventilator, making eye contact, and moving his extremities. He is far from being fully recovered as he is partially paralyzed, and has yet to talk… morbidity possibly in part due to several strokes he suffered during hospitalization. According to his mother, he is making progress, slowly but surely.
Now, contrast these two cases to that of Reginald Daye. For certain reasons, which have been concealed from the public by the Duke University Hospital staff and media, Reginald Daye went into a coma on the third post-op day. Prior to lapsing into unconsciousness his evaluation had him on the mend from the stab wound to the torso. Specifics surrounding his downward spiral and his week-long coma were shielded from media consumers, their first awareness that the hospital course of Mr. Daye had gone terribly wrong was with the announcement of his death.
Although I have not been privy to actual events, my sources have stated that Daye passed away shortly after he was taken off life support. In other words, the neurologists had determined that Daye had suffered irreversible brain damage – was “brain dead” in the layman’s parlance – concluded that he would never awaken from his comatose state, and electively removed him from life support with the consent of Daye’s family. The cessation of supportive measures by the medical staff was the proximate cause of Reginald Daye’s death and not any actions that preceded it.
Doctors are not gods and their prognoses are not 100% accurate. If that were the case, then Cory Harrison and Joshua Wrenn would both have been removed from life support and would have expired many weeks before their miraculous awakenings. Like Harrison and Wrenn, Reginald Daye deserved the opportunity to recover. However it was not to be because before a week’s time had elapsed, Daye was removed from life sustaining treatment at Duke University Hospital and allowed to die.
From media coverage just days following his emergency surgery the public had been led to believe that Daye’s course would be uneventful and his recovery complete. But that was not to be and mysterious events at the hospital resulted in a loss of consciousness as well a cardiac arrest. And while Daye lingered in a coma over a long seven day period, the media kept mum about the frightening and unexpected chain of events… with the public first learning of his condition after he was pronounced dead.
Why the rush to remove Daye from life support? Were there those with decision making powers who were concerned that he might recover and deprive the prosecution of charging Mangum with murder? The plug was pulled on Daye before the public even had an opportunity to enter into a debate about his comatose condition. With all certainty, Mangum was not responsible for Reginald Daye’s death or his coma.
If Cory Harrison and Joshua Wrenn could awaken from their comatose states and be weaned off life support measures, Reginald Daye should have been entitled to the same opportunity.
Mangum defense strategy: genius, inept, or Judas-like?
According to The Herald Sun, Crystal Mangum’s attorney, Chris Shella of Durham, entered a motion with the court on September 20, 2011, asking that his client be given a psychiatric evalution. Superior Court Judge G. Wayne Abernathy signed the order shortly thereafter for the purposes of supposedly determining whether or not she is mentally competent to stand trial for the murder of Reginald Daye.
This unexpected defense move was a surprise and one which I feel undercuts the original strategy which stated that she acted in self-defense. Shella had initially and repeatedly stated that Mangum stabbed Daye to prevent him from continuing to beat her up. It has been established that the two, prior to the incident, had been arguing about money orders which Mangum had purchased in the name of Daye to pay rent on the apartment the two symbiotically shared. Mangum wanted to use the money for rent, whereas Daye wanted it to purchase beer and alcohol.
Prosecutor Kelly Gauger and the state have never presented a motive for Mangum’s actions in stabbing Daye. Is the public to believe that she stabbed him without provocation in order to “steal” the two money orders that she had purchased? Or did she merely succumb to an underlying urge to kill boyfriends as the media would have you believe? The prosecution lacks a motive for the stabbing, while on the other hand, the self-defense argument for Mangum makes sense.
The prosecution has a weak murder case against Mangum, as a cursory look at the arrest warrant and grand jury indictment documents will show. Like the autopsy reports on Reginald Daye, both the warrant and indictment lack any information regarding the alleged murder and consist only of one generic sentence statements. Contrast it with the indictment of the trumped up case with which Crystal was charged in 2010.
Furthermore, you will notice that no where in the arrest warrant is there any mention of Reginald Daye being stabbed “seven times” or “multiple times.” ABC-11 News had frequently and erroneously stated that based on the arrest warrant Crystal Mangum stabbed Daye multiple times. This is simply false and misleading… and is typical of mainstream media reporting on this subject.
In addition to lacking a motive, discrepancies between the April 13th and 14th 2011 autopsy reports fail to provide a cause of death and introduces the strong likelihood of criminal fraud in the report of April 14th. There is nothing to support Crystal being driven by insanity to stab Daye, nor anything to suggest she is mentally unable to understand the charges that she faces or her legal situation. It seems to me that Shella undercuts Mangum’s self-defense position by suggesting that she is mentally incompetent and her mental status may have had something to do with her actions the morning of April 3, 2011. That is why his motion seeking a mental health evaluation is so troubling.
To my knowledge, Elisa Baker, who was convicted of killing, dismembering and burying her stepdaughter Zahra Baker, never had her mental faculties brought into question… she was never ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation for competency.
My concerns about this psychiatric evaluation tactic venture far beyond legal matters. With her being transferred to Central Regional Hospital in Butner for evaluation, concerns about her well being and even her life are brought to the fore. Had a psychiatrist or psychologist been sent to Durham’s Detention Center for the evaluation, I would be far less anxious. Within the confines of a mental institution, however, where she is vulnerable to mind-altering drugs and treatment that is shielded by confidentiality policies, anything is possible… and I am fearful for her.
Transferring Mangum from Durham to Butner also deprives Crystal of what little access in visitation that she has to those who support her and care about her. How long she will be held at that institution is an unknown.
Weight of the prosecutor’s case
In 2010, the state of North Carolina’s trumped up case against Crystal Mangum had the weight of straw, and the prosecution was able to prevail in several misdemeanor charges which were: child endangerment, injury to personal property, and resisting a public official. Despite a feather-weight defense by attorney Mani Dexter, the
prosecution was unable to convict Mangum of the felony charge of arson. The jury deadlocked because a few of the jurors with a conscience refused to convict her when they had doubts about her responsibility for setting clothes ablaze in a bathtub. Fact is that the Durham Police officers were the only ones with the motive, means, and opportunity to set the fire.
Crystal Mangum now faces murder charges for a prosecution case that has the weight of dust. The question is whether Mangum will get another featherweight defense performance. Initially I had hopes when attorney Shella challenged the state regarding its murder charge because an autopsy report had not yet been released that specified a cause of death. My hopes were bolstered when he told the media that Crystal acted in self-defense. I have been sent into a tailspin by his recent motion to the court seeking mental evaluation for his client.
A more effective and appropriate tact would be for Shella to ask the court to dismiss the murder charge as the autopsy reports clearly fail to show a nexus between the stab wound and Daye’s death, the discrepancies between the two reports strongly suggests biased criminal fraud, and the elective removal of Daye from life support by hospital staff automatically exempts Mangum from responsibility for his death.
The lack of curiosity on the part of the media and the inactivity on the part of politicians and community leaders reinforces their willingness to allow the state to continue to purse its ruthless persecution of Crystal Mangum as retaliation for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case.
Recently a reliable source stated that prosecution notes handed to defense as discovery, contained a written interview with Reginald Daye in which he admitted that prior to being stabbed he had dragged Crystal Mangum by her hair and “slapped her around.” This admission should be more than enough to have made the prosecution entertain the likely possibility that Ms. Mangum acted in self defense the morning of April 3, 2011. However, despite this, Prosecutor Gauger has pressed forward with her prosecution of Mangum in this case… a waste of county resources and taxpayer dollars, and a slap in the face of Lady Justice.
I have been taking action on behalf of justice by enlightening the people with flogs and by writing letters. Also, I have filed a formal complaint with the North Carolina State Bar against prosecutor Kelly Gauger for her malicious and merit-lacking prosecution of Crystal Mangum.
I am in a quandary as to what to expect next of defense attorney Chris Shella. Whose interests will have his highest priority… his client Crystal Mangum, or those of Duke University Hospital, state medical examiners, the powerful Carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants, and the state? Only time will tell.
A time when the Bench needs to step in and toss out
Because prosecutors often pursue criminal charges against defendants that are totally without merit, vendetta-based, and/or frivolously pursued, judges in the state of North Carolina have the ability to dismiss charges before they even reach the jury.
In a recent Durham case, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson felt compelled to dismiss murder charges against Michael C. Dorman II because Durham police had allowed crucial evidence to be destroyed. In this particular instance, the judge issued his order following a hearing brought by a motion presented by the defendant’s attorney. The charge was dismissed despite the fact that Dorman was in possession of the murder victim’s skeletal remains and an alleged confession to another party.
On July 7, 2011, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner dismissed a murder charge against Antonio Smith because the prosecutor failed to present any evidence that Smith committed the stabbing death for which he was standing trial. The charge was dropped even though Smith had previously been charged with another murder.
As in the aforementioned murder trials of Dorman and Smith, the trial judge in the murder case against Crystal Mangum would be well within justifiable bounds to dismiss the murder charge against Mangum in Reginald Daye’s death. The basis for dismissal would be as follows: (1) the major discrepancies between the investigative report of April 13, 2011 and the autopsy report of April 14, 2011; (2) that the autopsy reports were totally inadequate, full of omissions, did not express a specific cause of death, and did not link the stab wound to Daye’s death; and (3) Crystal Mangum had nothing to do with the removal of Reginald Daye from life support, the true and proximate cause of Daye’s death.
Prosecutor Kelly Gauger’s case is further weakened by the fact that the prosecution has offered no motive for the homicide, and the fact that public sentiment fueled by the mainstream media has insidiously tainted the public and the state’s attitudes against Ms. Mangum.
I believe that Mangum’s attorney Shella should have filed a motion long ago to have the murder charge dismissed. Because it seems to me that such a motion is not forthcoming, it is my hope that Judge Abernathy will take the initiative to step in and toss out the murder charge against Crystal Mangum… a charge that should never reach the hands of a jury.