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Here is the deal that Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser Crystal Mangum’s attorney recently suggested that she accept: plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury in exchange for a sentence of time served. Her attorney, H. Wood Vann, also informed her that she has a weak case, implying that if she did not accept the plea deal that she could be expected to be convicted of the first degree murder charge in Reginald Daye’s death.
Mr. Vann presented this plea deal during one of his rare visits to the Durham County Detention Center to see Ms. Mangum. In the other two previous visits he tried to discourage her from giving an interview to the Discovery Channel and to The News & Observer. In his attempts to have her accept the plea deal, he warned that if she did not agree to take it, her next court date would be in April 2013… seven months away. In other words, he threatened her with being forced to sit idly in jail another seven months while he did nothing… as he had done since taking over her defense nearly four months ago.
These recommendations from her defense attorney came despite the fact that he has continued to withhold vital prosecution discovery and other evidence from her. Crystal Mangum has never seen any of the prosecution photographs depicting injuries to her and Reginald Daye and the state of the apartment, including clumps of her hair and the bathroom door kicked off its hinges. Ms. Mangum has never seen the report from the forensic pathologist who reviewed the allegedly fraudulent autopsy report of April 14, 2011 by Dr. Clay Nichols and other documents about Daye’s death. Finally, Ms. Mangum never saw the mysterious yearlong SBI report that was rumored to be about the entry and trajectory of Daye’s stab wound. Ms. Mangum has repeatedly asked Mr. Vann to see these pieces of evidence, and he has continually refused to turn copies over to her for viewing. Yet, he expects her to accept his word that she has a weak defense in light of the fact that photographs, interviews, Daye’s condition and past history, and common sense strongly supports that she acted in self-defense when she stabbed him.
The reason Mr. Vann is trying to persuade Ms. Mangum to accept a plea deal is because he is trying to assist a desperate prosecution in extricating itself from a situation in which it finds itself in serious civil liability, namely malicious prosecution and wrongful incarceration. It is evident that the prosecution of Ms. Mangum was vendetta driven as payback for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case which occurred five years earlier. The simple fact of the matter is that the prosecution has absolutely no case against Mangum, and her attorney is well aware of this… but then, again, he is in collusion with her prosecutors.
The criminal case against Mangum is not unlike that of the bogus case against James Arthur Johnson in which the African American young man solved the heinous Wilson murder-kidnapping-rape-armed robbery of Wilson teen Brittany Willis. Without physical, forensic, eyewitness, or any other credible evidence against Johnson, he was held in jail for more than three years as the trial neared. Wilson prosecutors attempted to line up two “eyewitnesses,” both with ties to the Wilson Police Department, but withdrew once the NAACP became involved and brought media scrutiny to the case. Prosecutor Bill Wolfe tried his best to bluff Johnson into accepting a plea deal, and finally, when the day of the trial arrived, the prosecution backed down and referred their case to a “special prosecutor.” Belinda Foster, the special prosecutor from Forsyth County, was forced to accept the role by her superior District Attorney Thomas Keith, but she did so under the prearranged condition that she not be forced to prosecute the case. Under the pretense of investigating the case, Ms. Foster waited a few months, then per plans already decided upon, she dismissed all of the serious felony charges against Johnson and filed a charge against him of “accessory after the fact.” Instead of being hailed as a hero by the community, receiving a reward, and being endeared by the victim’s family for going against the “no-snitch” law of the streets, and identifying the true killer who had days earlier confided his criminal acts to him, Johnson was incarcerated for thirty nine months, ended up with a criminal record, was disparaged in the media, and was deprived of the $20,000 reward that was offered by the family and friends of Brittany Willis.
Like the Johnson case, Prosecutor Charlene Coggins-Franks has no intention of taking the case against Mangum to trial because there is no case. If she even attempted to do so, she would literally be laughed out of the courthouse. The only thing a trial would accomplish, even if the defense was handled by an inept turncoat attorney, would be to draw attention to the bogus autopsy report and uncover the truth about Daye’s death… which is that it was caused by a medical mistake with a botched intubation by staff at Duke University Hospital. Initially, the prosecution goal may have been to saddle Ms. Mangum with a conviction and lengthy prison sentence under a silently conducted trial, but since the involvement by Mangum’s supporters, the prosecution is now frantically trying to wiggle out of its predicament with a plea deal.
Unfortunately for Coggins-Franks and her staff, their ace in the hole, defense attorney Woody Vann has been exposed as one whose allegiance is traitorously aligned with the prosecution… they are acting in lockstep and depending upon him to deliver the goods – a plea deal of assault with a deadly weapon for time served. But it’s not going to work this time, at least if the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong has anything to say about it.
Racial prejudice is prevalent in the criminal justice system in North Carolina, and it is a common practice for innocent African Americans to be arrested, held on a high bail, and forced to essentially serve a sentence while waiting to go to trial. Often, these innocents accept a plea deal as a way of getting out of jail… pleading to a lesser crime in exchange for time served. On a few rare occasions, the defendants are merely released without comment… such as what happened to Carletta Patrice Alston. She was arrested and charged with the murder of her stepfather, and was held in jail for a year. When Prosecutor Tom Ford (of the Gregory Taylor case) was unable to manufacture a case against her, she was released.
It is obvious to a reasonable person with full knowledge of the facts that something is wrong with the prosecution’s case when a person indicted on a first degree murder charge is offered a deal by prosecutors to plead guilty to assault with a deadly weapon in exchange for a sentence of time served… less than a year and a half. Prosecutors purposely charged Ms. Mangum with a crime with knowledge that she was innocent, and they are now attempting to remove themselves from the fiasco by forcing her to allow the placement on her record that she is a felon guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.
This is the sort of thing that puts the North Carolina justice system in disrepute… not the prosecutorial actions of former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, and not the passionately animated judicial complaints of former Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline.
There is no doubt that in the criminal case against Crystal Mangum that she is up against a prosecution that is the antithesis of a “minister of justice,” and which is up to its eyeballs in a conspiracy with the Orange County medical examiner, defense attorneys representing Ms. Mangum, the mainstream media, and the enablers – the NAACP, ACLU, North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (enablers being other civil rights organizations, and politicians who are able to make a difference, but stand idly by and say and do nothing). The only ones fighting for justice for Ms. Mangum are her supporters, including the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong… and regrettably, they are the objects of disparagement and ridicule by the media-types.
The Durham prosecution needs to act responsibly and do the right thing by unconditionally dismissing all criminal charges against Crystal Mangum and releasing her from custody. The charade has been exposed for what it is with the only criminals coming from the prosecution side. Lady Justice makes these demands so that the principles of restorative justice can take place and the innocent mother of three can put her life back together as best as is possible.