Thursday, September 20, 2012
Woody Vann’s appeal for a Mangum bail reduction gets a mixed review; and a complaint is filed against the Medical Examiner
Word count: 1,588
On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, H. Wood Vann and his client Crystal Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser, appeared in Durham’s Superior Court where Mr. Vann argued for a bail reduction from $200,000 to $50,000. I was not present at this event, but from the accounts I have read and comments made to me by eyewitnesses, Mr. Vann put up a spirited attack.
Mr. Vann appropriately stated that Ms. Mangum was no flight risk, was a Durham native, presented no danger to the community, and that she appeared in Court (when under house arrest in the 2010 arson case). Also, he mentioned that Crystal Mangum was defending herself against an intoxicated Daye who kicked in a bathroom door Mangum had locked behind her, and then pulled out some of her hair and hairweave. To his credit, Mr. Vann also brought up the fact that there are questions suggesting that Daye’s death might have been due to treatment he received at Duke University Hospital. He explained to Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan that on the night (Monday, April 4, 2011) after his assault and emergency surgery (Sunday, April 3, 2011) that Mr. Daye was up and walking around and talking to police. Mr. Vann then described that two days later (Wednesday, April 6, 2011) Mr. Daye, who was an alcoholic, went into delirium tremens which preceded a cascade of events, beginning with a bout of emesis (most assuredly induced by the administration of contrast agent into his stomach via a naso-gastric tube), and culminated with his removal from life support and death a week later (Wednesday, April 13, 2011).
According to newspaper accounts, the Durham prosecutor did not refute: 1) that Daye kicked in the bathroom door; 2) that Daye pulled out Mangum’s hair; 3) that Daye was an alcoholic and intoxicated; 4) that Daye’s surgery was successful with an excellent prognosis for a full recovery; and 5) that Daye’s downward spiral to death was directly related to complications from delirium tremens. Instead, Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks gave an irrational, illogical, and unbelievable narrative of events wherein she claimed the two were arguing over cashier’s checks that Ms. Mangum allegedly wouldn’t return to her. The Herald-Sun article even states that the cashier’s checks were given to her - not that she took them. (QUESTION: So, where does larceny fit in in this fantasy scenario conjured up by Coggins-Franks if Reginald Daye gave the checks to Ms. Mangum and she allegedly refused to return them? ANSWER: There is no case for larceny!) Coggins-Franks also admitted during the hearing that Ms. Mangum locked herself in the bathroom, but evidently she did not give an explanation for this action (which was obviously to protect herself from Daye), and then the prosecutor conveniently neglects to mention that Daye was responsible for kicking in the bathroom door!
Prosecutor Coggins-Franks then expects the judge to believe that after an intoxicated Reginald Daye asked Ms. Mangum to leave his apartment (for which he was the sole lessee and who paid the rent) and she refused, that he then decides to leave of his own volition and as he is doing so, Ms. Mangum grabs a knife and stabs him. According to witnesses and Ms. Mangum, the prosecutor stated that he was stabbed in the back. This is a blatantly and factually incorrect statement, as the wound was inflicted to the front-lateral aspect of the chest. There are two possible explanations for this misstatement by Coggins-Franks, which are: (1) She doesn’t know the pertinent facts of this case (possibly due to being overworked or a heavy caseload which have deprived her of time to be knowledgeable about the case), and (2) She purposely attempted to mislead the judge into believing that Mangum stabbed the defenseless and unaware “victim” in the back (a bold attempt to rule out self-defense). Once more, Woody Vann apparently rose to the occasion by rebutting that Mr. Daye was stabbed in the back. To my knowledge Prosecutor Coggins-Franks did not counter the correction made by Mr. Vann.
In another pathetic attempt, Prosecutor Coggins-Franks does her best to shift Daye’s transfer to the Intensive Care Unit from complications related to alcoholic withdrawal to an infection secondary to the stab wound. However, the record clearly shows that concerns by the medical staff were due to impending D.T.s as Daye was given repeated boluses of the sedative Valium intravenously. From the hospital records I have viewed, there was no indication that any cultures were taken or antibiotics given to Daye during his hospitalization. The intention of Coggins-Franks here is again to mislead the Court.
Despite relatively strong arguments by the defense, and weak, illogical and erroneous prosecution statements totally lacking in credibility, the judge refused to reduce bail for Ms. Mangum. If I am not mistaken, every time a hearing has been brought before the Court, a different judge has been sitting on the bench. This leads me to believe that the prosecution spends much of its energies in judge shopping for criminal charges it knows lacks wheels.
Although I was somewhat impressed by Mr. Vann’s performance at this hearing (my expectations were exceedingly low), I still retain questions about his true allegiances. My concerns are due mainly to the following: (1) his refusal to share all prosecution discovery with Mangum… especially the photographs which show her injuries and the crime scene, as they would convey the nature of the abuse and horror to which Mangum was subjected at Daye’s hands and lend to her claim to be a victim of domestic violence; (2) his refusal to turn over to Mangum the report by forensic pathologist Dr. Christena L. Roberts for which Judge Henry Hight ordered the defense expert witness to receive compensation on June 18, 2012 – more than three months ago; (3) his refusal to give his client the mysterious SBI report; (4) his refusal to file a motion to dismiss the ridiculous and baseless “larceny of chose in action” charge which permit the prosecution to up the murder charge to first degree; (5) his pulling punches in his argument for Mangum by protecting Duke University Hospital – laying blame for Daye’s brain death on aspiration rather than the esophageal placement of an endotracheal tube by Duke staff; and (6) his overall lack of urgency and aggressiveness in the face of such bogus and baseless criminal charges. In addition, Mr. Vann has not had adequate communication with Mangum, visiting her on extremely rare occasions. For example, she did not even know that she would be going to court until the morning of the hearing… and she did not know about what the hearing would be.
Personally, I have the impression that the hearing of September 18, 2012, was a staged event, and that it was preordained that bail would be denied to Crystal Mangum. Keep in mind that it is imperative that Mangum remain incarcerated in order for the prosecution to be able to force a plea deal upon her… and that is its ultimate goal. Prosecutor Coggins-Franks cannot take the case to trial because she has no case, and her performance at the hearing was pitiful at best. Defense attorney Vann, on the other hand, did well enough to encourage trust by his client and her supporters – but that is exactly what he wants. A trusting client would be easier for Mr. Vann to persuade to accept a plea deal down the road that would best benefit the prosecution, the medical examiner, and Duke University Hospital… all at the expense of Crystal Mangum who would be saddled with a felony conviction, inability to obtain compensation, and loss of vindication.
If Woody Vann had his client’s best interests at heart, he would refrain from withholding important and probable exculpatory evidence from her, and produce it immediately. The truth behind the evidence that Mr. Vann is withholding from Mangum is enough to have the fraudulent charges against her dismissed.
As The News & Observer editorial’s Our Views column stated in its December 14, 2010 editorial titled “Hide and seek”: “When evidence is hidden that could help a defendant, the justice system is corrupted.”
MEDICAL BOARD COMPLAINT
The fraudulent Autopsy Examination Report of April 14, 2011, by Dr. Clay Nichols, with its fabricated false findings and unsupported conclusion is at the heart of the bogus murder charge against Crystal Mangum, and it is evident it was prepared to prop up the prosecution's case. Dr. Clay Nichols is the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner of the state of North Carolina, and he has a duty to provide accurate, objective, and fair autopsy reports – and not to mold the findings and conclusions to fit the whims of the prosecution… no more so than the SBI lab, which has recently come under scrutiny for its lack of impartiality. This incident which involves the medical examiner is just as damning.
Three weeks ago, I notified the state’s Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Deborah Radisch, about the problems with the April 14, 2011 autopsy report in hopes that another report would be issued to rectify problems with the initial one. Receiving no indication that such movement was forthcoming, on September 19, 2012, I reluctantly mailed, by certified, a formal complaint with the North Carolina Medical Board against Dr. Nichols.
Click on the link below to access the Formal Complaint against Dr. Clay Nichols and the accompanying exhibits.