In a January 14, 2012, News & Observer article by J. Andrew Curliss titled “Chiding prosecutor, judge resets sex-offender case,” the former Durham prosecutor in the 2010 case against Crystal Mangum, Angela Garcia-Lamarca, was rebuked for vindictive and improper actions against a fifty year-old man accused of child molestation decades ago. Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson stated that he would enter a written order that Ms. Garca-Lamarca, who resigned from the Durham District Attorney’s Office last month, violated ethics rules for lawyers while dealing with a heavy-handed plea deal. Durham defense attorney Kerry Sutton claimed that the assistant district attorney acted vindictively in seeking harsh charges against her client because he (the defendant in a sex abuse case) refused to accept a plea deal for time served. Although he denied the defense’s motion to have the case dismissed entirely, Judge Hudson refused to allow the defendant to face the more serious vindictive charges that Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca had subsequently filed.
It was this same prosecutor who, in February 2010, prosecuted Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser on a series of trumped up charges. The prosecution against Mangum was “payback” for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case. Among the initial charges leveled against Ms. Mangum was attempted first degree murder (with the weapons used being listed as her hands and feet), assault (although it was her ex-boyfriend who initiated physical interaction by repeatedly punching her in the face), communication of threats, identity theft (a charge abused by the prosecution as Ms. Mangum made no attempt to fraudulently misrepresent her identity in order to gain property unlawfully), child abuse, and a slew of other charges.
During that February 2010 incident, in which it was crystal clear that Ms. Mangum was innocent of committing any crime, the Durham Police vindictively wanted to saddle her with a serious charge that carried a lengthy prison sentence, so under the pretense of smelling smoke, the apartment was emptied by the officers which presented them with the opportunity, to go along with the means and motive, to set fire to clothes in the bathtub. The police then closed the door without making any attempt to extinguish the blaze they had ignited, and allowed smoke to damage the apartment while waiting for several fire trucks and two dozen firemen to come to the scene in the middle of the night to douse some flames that had scorched some articles of clothing. Keep in mind that the police did not set the building on fire, so the charge at best should have been nothing more than vandalism… not arson. And since everyone but the arsonist officers had vacated the building, it was not even a first degree felony as charged against Mangum.
In addition to first degree felony arson, Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca also charged Mangum with three counts of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” asserting that the potential of destroying the apartment would make it more likely that her three children would run afoul of the law. As tenuous as the charge was, it was indisputably linked to the arson charge. This was borne out by a statement by the presiding judge, Superior Court Judge Abe Jones who ruled that the three charges of contributing to the abuse or neglect of her children would rise and fall on how the jury handled the arson charge. He promised to dismiss the abuse charge if the jury doesn't find Mangum guilty of arson. Judge Jones’ statement makes perfect sense. It’s crystal clear.
Yet, the jury, after a mistrial on the arson charge of nine to three in favor of acquittal, went on to unanimously convict Mangum on the charge related to the child abuse/endangerment/neglect. What was this jury thinking? Did the jurors not understand what Judge Abe Jones said prior to their reaching a verdict? As a result, the only true bogus charges for which Crystal Mangum was convicted was (1) injury to personal property for allegedly slashing the tires of her ex-boyfriend’s car and breaking its windshield; and (2) resisting a public officer (for allegedly struggling during her arrest and giving officers her sister's name and birth date). As most people are aware, the resisting a public officer charge is one that is used most commonly to tack onto other charges to make an offender’s offenses seem worse, or to make an arrest of an innocent person who has not committed a crime.
At the time of the prosecution, Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca was far along in her pregnancy, and could take solace in knowing that she would be on maternity leave well before the case went to trial… leaving the unscrupulous dirty prosecutorial work to fellow Durham prosecutor Mark McCullough. Because of Garcia-Lamarca’s vindictive misconduct, Ms. Mangum served three months in jail, during which time she suffered the following: (1) lost her job; (2) lost her apartment; (3) lost custody of her children; (4) was kicked out of the Masters program at NCCU; (5) lost much of her personal property; (6) her father passed away; and (7) she lost her independence as a productive citizen moving positively towards turning her life around following the Duke Lacrosse incident. Quite a legacy, that Angela Garcia-Lamarca built for herself, and one in which Mangum’s current prosecutor is currently following.
Prosecutor Kelly Gauger has charged Ms. Mangum with first degree murder in the death of Reginald Daye, a man who was electively removed from life support by the medical staff at Duke University Hospital. Mr. Daye was taken off support after being declared to be “brain-dead”… the cause of which is either unknown, undisclosed, or both. What is clear is that Daye’s comatose state had no nexus to the stab wound inflicted by Ms. Mangum… and therefore, she is not responsible for Daye’s death. The comatose state could be explained by medical malpractice or possibly even a hospital homicide, but the Durham Police Department is loathed to even take such a possibility into consideration.
According to my reliable sources, Daye admitted to police that prior to the stabbing that he had “dragged Crystal by her hair and slapped her around.” So, after an involvement in a lengthy argument, it is very likely that the stabbing by Mangum was the result of self defense. The murder charge by Gauger is ludicrous and is not even supported by a motive.
Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca has already been called out by Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson for her vindictive prosecutorial approach, similar to the one she used against Ms. Mangum in 2010. Prosecutor Kelly Gauger is following the same disgraceful path as her recently resigned colleague. And even though Ms. Mangum is getting what I believe to be, once again, less than adequate legal representation, prosecutor Gauger should heed the actions taken by Judge Hudson against Garcia-Lamarca. Gauger needs to consider that the biased mainstream media and the misguided anti-Nifong public sentiment cannot indefinitely hold back the march of Lady Justice in meting out “equal justice for all.” The day of reckoning for anti-Nifong legal eagles is close at hand. That much is crystal clear.