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In a criminal case against Duke Lacrosse case victim/accuser Crystal Mangum, the charges against her should never have been brought. What makes this case truly bizarre and unique is that Ms. Mangum’s attorney holds in his hands the exculpatory evidence to free his client, but is keeping it from her while he tries to convince her to plead guilty to assault with intent to kill inflicting serious injury… a class C felony. The document of interest is a report by Dr. Christena L. Roberts, a forensics pathologist who reviewed the April 14, 2011 Autopsy Examination Report on Reginald Daye. The autopsy and author of the report was Orange County Medical Examiner Clay Nichols.
Dr. Nichols’ report concluded that Mr. Daye died as a result of “complications from a stab wound to the chest,” without mentioning specifics of his death and containing major omissions, such as the deceased was victim of a botched intubation which led to his brain death… irreversible coma secondary to brain death being the prime reason for his elective removal from a weeklong’s worth of life support and proximate cause of death. In addition to Nichols’ conclusion which presented no nexus between the stab wound and Daye’s brain death or actual death, the report contained findings of injuries that were at marked variance with findings in other medical records… such as the operative report and orthopedic surgeon consultation report. Dr. Nichols’ findings suggested that the stab wound Mr. Daye sustained inflicted far more damage than that in the other hospital documents.
It is expected that Dr. Christena L. Roberts, an independent forensic pathologist, would prepare a report that starkly contrasted with the one by Dr. Nichols which was the basis for the murder charge against Ms. Mangum. In particular, it is highly likely that Dr. Roberts would confirm what Mangum supporters have long contended… that Reginald Daye’s death was not secondary to the stab wound. Without doubt, the proximate cause of Daye’s demise would be due to his elective removal from life support… the basis for it being due to his comatose state resulting from a mis-positioned endotracheal tube.
Such a review of the April 14, 2011 autopsy report by an independent pathologist would have been the first thing that a competent defense team should have done to quickly and adequately debunk the prosecution’s false assertion that the stab wound at Mangum’s hand was directly responsible for Daye’s death. A review would also represent exculpatory evidence, proving that Ms. Mangum was not responsible for the victim’s death.
For more than a year, Crystal Mangum rotted in jail while no such review was even sought. It was only after Mangum supporter Sidney B. Harr, a retired physician, spoke with Crystal Mangum’s defense attorney H. Wood Vann on May 24, 2012, that Mr. Vann took actions to put such an investigation into motion. On June 12, 2012, Mr. Vann filed an application for defense expert witness funding, and on June 16, 2012, Superior Court Judge Henry Hight signed the order for it.
The order allowed $3,000 payment to Dr. Roberts at $300/hr… compensation for roughly ten hours worth of work… to review the autopsy report and other medical records, and to draft a report.
As of the date of this posting, it has been more than two months, eighty days to be exact, since the order was given for payment for the report by Dr. Roberts, and still Crystal Mangum has not seen it. She stated that her attorney, Mr. Vann received it some time ago, and that he refuses to give her a copy of it until she is no longer incarcerated.
In addition, a mysterious report by the SBI, purportedly involving entry-trajectory knife path studies, has been completed after a yearlong research. Ms. Mangum states that Mr. Vann has possession of that report, as well.
Finally, Ms. Mangum has never seen the photographs that were taken by prosecution that document the crime scene and the injuries she sustained. Their value is extremely important as they document her condition and support that she was physically abused… in favor of her claim of self-defense. Although her first attorney Chris Shella did share some prosecution discovery with her, he always refrained from providing photographs that she requested. Mr. Vann has continued along that vein by refusing to give her copies of the photographs, as well. Like the other prosecution documents being withheld, Mr. Vann told her he would turn them over to her only after she was released from jail.
The Roberts’ report, the mysterious SBI report, and the photographs taken by prosecution are all major pieces of exculpatory evidence that is being withheld from Crystal Mangum not by the prosecution, by her own defense attorney. This is unheard of… and if not illegal, it is inappropriate action by the defense attorney. If rules and regulations demand that prosecutors turn discover (especially exculpatory evidence) over to the defendant, surely a defense attorney cannot intercept and withhold it from the intended defendant.
Consider that former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong was accused of withholding exculpatory evidence from the Duke Lacrosse defendants, a myth that was pedaled by the biased mainstream media, which was the main consideration in his being disbarred. First of all, Mr. Nifong never withheld any discovery from defense in that case, and what information that defense attorneys claimed was “exculpatory” was far from being so. The media egged on the State Bar calling for Mr. Nifong’s head.
Compare that incident that occurred six and a half years ago with the current situation in which defense attorney Woody Vann is withholding exculpatory evidence from his own client, defendant Crystal Mangum who is facing a first degree murder charge and a possible sentence of life in prison without parole. Mr. Vann doesn’t want to show her prosecution discovery, thereby doing the dirty work of the prosecution for them… and of course, the media isn’t the least bit interested in the discovery (mainly because it is supportive of Mangum). The mainstream media is concentrating its efforts on learning about the names of the calls placed on former UNC head football coach Butch Davis’s cell phone, and the identities of the UNC football players who had their parking tickets paid for them several years back.
It’s not that the media doesn’t care about Ms. Mangum’s plight, because they do. They are a major part of the conspiracy that is helping to put her away for life because she accused three Duke lacrosse students, from families of wealth, power, and privilege, of sexually assaulting her… and because she’s African American. The media is playing a Jedi Mind-trick on the people by feeding them falsehoods and misinformation in their selective, skewed, and one-sided reporting. For the conspiracy to succeed, the truth behind the prosecution of Crystal Mangum must be hidden from the people… the crimes committed by the prosecution against Ms. Mangum must be concealed from the masses. A big part of that truth lies in the hands of Mangum’s attorney, Woody Vann.
Mr. Vann is aware that if he turns over the exculpatory documents and photographs currently in his possession that the truth about the grand scale conspiracy of persecution against Ms. Mangum will leak out into the public… and that would defeat his current objective. Convincing Mangum to take a plea deal for time served is the desperate play the prosecution is trying to now pull off to avoid civil liability for malicious prosecution, and to protect the reputations and work of Dr. Nichols and Duke University Hospital. If Ms. Mangum was armed with knowledge contained in the prosecution discovery that has been withheld, it is less likely that she would be as agreeable to accepting a plea deal.
One nonsensical argument for withholding prosecution discovery from Ms. Mangum is that if she had access to it, she would then send the copies of it to Sidney B. Harr. That is precisely what she should do, as Harr is a trusted friend and a physician who can best evaluate the report and help interpret it for her.
The argument then would become that if Harr got his hands on the prosecution discovery, then he would put it on the internet. What is wrong with that if, as expected, the prosecution discovery is supportive of Mangum’s innocence of the criminal charges against her? During the Duke Lacrosse case, defense attorneys, including Joe Cheshire, were repeatedly giving well-attended press conferences in which they revealed evidence that they claimed supported their clients’ blamelessness at the March 2006 beer-guzzling party.
As the defendant in a first degree murder charge, Crystal Mangum is entitled to have the entire prosecution discovery package, and it is inexcusable for her defense attorney to keep it from her. There is no logical reason for Mr. Vann to prevent Ms. Mangum from viewing and having the prosecution discovery and evidence with their exculpatory potential. By his actions, Mr. Vann brings into question his true allegiance, which surely does not appear to be with his client, Mangum.
Woody Vann needs to turn over to Crystal Mangum all prosecution discovery and evidence (including the Roberts’ report, the SBI report, and the photographs), or immediately step down from representing her as defense counsel.