Monday, June 21, 2010

Crystal Mangum did not destroy property

After Hammond & Hammond Bailbondsmen, Inc. satisfied conditions for the $100,000 bond for Crystal Mangum and she was released from the Durham Detention Center into house arrest, she was no longer totally incommunicado. The biased media, of course, has not made an effort to interview her or do anything to present her side of what took place on the night of February 17, 2010. They just attempted to put a positive light on the police/prosecutor story, while ignoring its inherent problems with timeframe and logic. One important issue that almost all media have stayed away from is the alleged vandalism of the car of Crystal’s ex-boyfriend. This destructive act was referenced to in the Durham Police’s Incident/investigative report and in the indictment obtained from the Grand Jury.

The Grand Jury Indictment obtained April 5, 2010, alleges that Ms. Mangum “did wantonly injure personal property of Milton Walker, including clothing, car tires and the windshield of his car.” Neither the police nor prosecution put forth a statement with a credible timeline of when and how this damage to Mr. Walker’s car took place. Also, they do not give any credible evidence linking Ms. Mangum to the incident. For example, did the damage to his car take place the night of February 17th, and, if so, when... prior to the domestic dispute? Or did she damage the car after he initiated the fight with Crystal by punching her in the face? Did Mr. Walker call the police about the car damage after discovering it? How did Mr. Walker get home after the incident? Can it be documented that Mr. Walker did have his tires and windshield replaced?

The only media document that I could find that even mentioned the allegedly vandalized car was an article written by Keith Upchurch for the Herald-Sun newspaper. His statement about the vandalism is vague, and doesn’t even hint that Ms. Mangum was responsible for it. Mr. Upchurch’s single sentence on the vandalism is: “Thursday afternoon, an empty black Lincoln car with four flat tires and a shattered windshield was in the driveway, and a leaf blower was in the front yard.” The question is, to whom does the car belong? I tried to obtain photographs of the car, but was informed by Mr. Upchurch that no photographs were taken. I believe that this is relevant because the police incident report describes Mr. Walker’s car as being a blue 2000 Oldsmobile Park Avenue, and not a black Lincoln. I have no idea how to explain this discrepancy. However, when taken as a whole, the credibility of the police/prosecutor’s story is severely strained.

One final point about the car vandalism… Ms. Mangum has always maintained that the argument arose after she broke up with him and asked him to remove his belongings and leave the house. Does it make any sense that she would do anything to hamper his move – such as slash all four of his tires? The police are trying to present the car vandalism as being motivated by Ms. Mangum rage, but the truth is is that Ms. Mangum was not angry with Mr. Walker… at least not prior to him punching her in the face.

Issues revolving around the burned clothes in the bathtub, likewise, are vague and nonspecific. One media source referred to a “bathtub full” of clothes being burned… but whether only a handful of clothes or many clothes were damaged has always been unclear in police and media reports. Were only Mr. Walker’s clothing burned, as the media would lead one to believe? Two things troublesome about the clothing burned in the bathtub are: (1) that the authorities are trying to define this as first degree arson, even though there was no flame damage to the structure; and (2) that the authorities are trying to lay blame on the clothes burning to Crystal Mangum without credible evidence. To my knowledge no officer admitted to witnessing the origin of the fire. Ms. Mangum, according to one report, was supposedly seen carrying clothes into the bathroom, although this report is suspect as she denied ever doing so.

The fact that the media went to extremes and avoided writing about the car vandalism speaks volumes about the veracity of such an occurrence. I believe that the car vandalism accusation was conveniently employed to increase the amount of personal property damaged attributed to Ms. Mangum to an amount greater than $200.

In conclusion, the injury to personal property charge against Ms. Mangum is as bogus as the attempted first degree murder charge, and like that charge, it should be dropped as well. Fact is all charges against Ms. Mangum should be immediately dropped. This entire case against her is nothing more than vendetta justice in retaliation for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case. It is judicial discrimination to which all Nifong supporters and “wrong-enders” (individuals considered by the Powers-That-Be to be on the wrong end of the Duke Lacrosse case) are being unfairly subjected.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crystal Mangum did NOT set clothes in bathtub on fire!

After speaking with Crystal Mangum I learned that on the night of February 17, 2010, she did not set fire to clothes in the bathtub as alleged by the Durham Police Department. Furthermore, she did not know that a fire had been set in her bathtub, and she did not know who was responsible for setting the fire. She also stated that she did not vandalize her ex-boyfriend’s car, as had been alleged in Durham Police Incident/Investigative report, and in the grand jury indictment. Furthermore she stated that she was unaware that her ex’s car had even been vandalized. Regarding the physical altercation with her ex-boyfriend, Ms. Mangum stated that he initiated the fight by punching her in the face, and she fought back in self defense. She never attempted to murder him, or use a lethal weapon against him. In light of her statements about what transpired the night of February 17, 2010, if what Ms. Mangum said is true (and I believe it is), the state’s entire case against her is baseless and without merit… nothing more than a house of cards built with smoke and mirrors on shifting sand… a case that is as flawed, flimsy, and flaky as the North Carolina State Bar’s case against former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. I find Crystal’s statements about what happened that night to be far more compelling than those made by authorities because her narrative has a believable timeline with a logical progression of events. Police reports give a report that is vague, sparse on details and substance, disjointed, illogical, and one that essentially defies belief.

When Attorney General Roy Cooper announced on April 11, 2007 that he was dropping all charges in the Duke Lacrosse case, the Carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants concentrated on exacting payback, beginning with the prosecutor, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. With the media in cahoots with state agencies, and a pliable public which was readily susceptible to Jedi mind-tricks, Mr. Nifong was disbarred and severely persecuted. In addition to punitive and malicious action taken against Mr. Nifong, two lead investigators in the Duke Lacrosse case were forced to resign, the Durham City Manager was forced to resign, the head of the DNA lab who worked for the prosecution was fired, and the judge hearing the DNA lab director’s wrongful termination law suit threw the case out. Anyone considered by the Powers-That-Be to be on the “wrong end” of the Duke Lacrosse case (“wrong-enders”) were targeted for merciless retaliation. After Mr. Nifong, the high valued “wrong-ender” target next in line for the Powers-That-Be was Crystal Mangum, the African American exotic dancer at the Duke LAX Spring Break beer-guzzling stripper party, who made accusations against the three Duke defendants. A fateful 9-1-1 call by the ten year-old daughter of Ms. Mangum out of concern for her mother’s life on the night of February 17, 2010 gave authorities the opening they had been patiently waiting for, and they burst through it like storm troopers.

Ms. Mangum did not have to break any laws or commit a crime to unleash the unspeakable havoc that would be heaped on her. All that was required was for her to merely initiate contact, no matter how innocent or tangential, with the Durham law enforcement, such as the 9-1-1 call. The plan was straight forward, and was comprised of the following steps: (1) Charge Mangum with many charges and serious charges at the time of her arrest; (2) obtain a high bail (based on those charges) that she would be unable to meet; (3) hold her in jail pre-trial while the prosecution, which determines the pace of court action, moves at glacial speed – she was now serving her sentence as punishment for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case (Note: Wilson Prosecutor Bill Wolfe dragged his feet and stretched James Arthur Johnson’s pre-trial period of incarceration to 39 months before the trial date finally arrived, at which time the prosecution called for a special prosecutor to take over after last minute plea bargains with Mr. Johnson failed.); (4) after serving a long indeterminate sentence behind bars, Ms. Mangum would be expected to jump at the chance to take a plea deal just in order to be released from confinement; (5) after Mangum had served a sufficient sentence behind bars, the prosecution would offer a plea deal that would free her based on time served in exchange for pleading guilty to some charge; and (6) the prosecution would have prevailed without going to trial and Ms. Mangum would have served her sentence for offenses in the Duke Lacrosse case.

This was how things were supposed to happen. Crystal Mangum, who did nothing more than involuntarily allow her face to be used as a punching bag by her ex-boyfriend, was to serve several years in prison while awaiting trial, then she was to be released on a plea deal with a criminal record for misdemeanor arson, and, if the prosecution could swing it, have her placed on probation too.

Shortly after her February 17, 2010 arrest, the prosecution, headed by Angela Garcia-Lamarca, offered the following plea deal to Ms. Mangum: plead guilty as charged and serve a sentence of two years in prison. Her public defender attorney warned Mangum that if she turned down the offer and opted to go to trial, and if the prosecution successfully had her convicted of felony first degree arson, she could possibly face a six year sentence. Ms. Mangum refused this plea offer and languished in jail for three months until fate intervened in the form of two benevolent and generous bondsmen. The Carpetbagger Jihad plan had proceeded as intended until the owners of Hammond & Hammond Bailbondsmen, Inc. unexpectedly satisfied the $100,000 bond requirement for Ms. Mangum’s release from the Durham Detention Center. However, as a safeguard against such an unexpected event, Judge Claude Allen had set a condition for Ms. Mangum that if she was able to bond out, she would be required to be placed under house arrest. The move from the detention center to house arrest was not only significant because Ms. Mangum was no longer subjected to the oppressive conditions related with being behind bars, but because the prosecution lost its greatest bargaining chip. As a jail inmate, Ms. Mangum would have been more willing to accept harsher terms of a plea offer in order to taste freedom. With comforts of home confinement she was in better position to dictate terms for a plea deal that she would find more to her liking, or have the option of waiting to go to trial. Approximately one month into house arrest, the prosecution proposed to Ms. Mangum a second plea deal: plead guilty to misdemeanor arson and serve three additional months under house arrest along with credit for time served for the three months already spent in jail, and be placed on three years probation. Again, Ms. Mangum declined this offer by the prosecution.

The greatest advantage to Ms. Mangum of being placed under house arrest was that she was no longer inaccessible. Friends and family and supporters were able to visit her without time constraints or supervision. It was during such a visit that I met Ms. Mangum and she told me, face to face, what transpired in the late hours of February 17th and early hours of the 18th with respect to her interaction with her ex-boyfriend and authorities. I found her narrative of events to be consistent, cogent, credible, and compatible with the timeline… and her story, as told to me, follows.

On February 17, 2010, Crystal Mangum, single mother of three children aged 11, 10, and 3 years, had custody of her children who lived with her in a rented apartment. Moving forward with her life after Duke Lacrosse, she was gainfully employed and self-sufficient, and had recently taken out a $6,000 loan to pay for tuition, books, and supplies for grad school (she was enrolled at North Carolina Central University where she was pursuing a Masters degree in clinical psychology).

She had been intermittently in a relationship with Milton Walker over a 17 year period, and he currently had been dividing time staying with Ms. Mangum and at his parents’ house, also located in Durham. During the evening of February 17th an argument ensued when Ms. Mangum related to Mr. Walker that she wanted to terminate their relationship, and that she wanted him to move, with his belongings, from her apartment. At about 11:15 pm, the argument turned violent after Ms. Mangum made a statement to which Walker took offense. He responded by grabbing Crystal and punching her in the face several times. Mangum’s ten year-old daughter immediately went to the phone and made a frantic call to 9-1-1, requesting help and stating that if help did not arrive soon, her mother might be killed.

Ms. Mangum extricated herself from her ex-boyfriend’s grasp and attempted to escape. He was in pursuit. She picked up a chair, and hit him with it in self-defense. Intermittently during the next twenty minutes or so, the two scuffled, wrestled, and exchanged punches. She then went into an unoccupied bedroom and closed the door behind her. After approximately five minutes in the room she emerged, whereupon she found two police officers (Tyler and Thompson) entering the premises.

Acutely aware of her infamous Duke Lacrosse past, Ms. Mangum began talking to the two officers, trying to mollify the situation because she dreaded police involvement and its implications with regards to media, etc.

Shortly after Mangum engaged the two officers, two additional officers entered the house with a handcuffed Mr. Walker between them. The sight of Walker triggered a fit of hysteria during which Mangum screamed at him. She doesn’t deny that she might have said something to the effect that she was going to stab him, but she did not have a knife and was definitely not armed when yelling. In other words, there was no imminent danger that she could or would carry out the threat. Officer Tyler then forced Ms. Mangum to the floor and handcuffed her. Mangum had been assured that she was not under arrest, but that she was being restrained until things could be sorted out.

Shortly thereafter, Officer Tyler stated aloud that he smelled smoke, at which point Officer Thompson began to lead Crystal out of the house. Mangum heard Officer Tyler go to the bathroom and kick in the bathroom door (Note: the bathroom door had been closed since before the officers arrived). Crystal was hesitant, not wanting to leave her children in the house if there was danger. Officer Thompson assured Mangum that her children would be removed from the house, as well. Shortly thereafter, Crystal’s three children and Walker joined her outside of the house. Officer Thompson placed Crystal in the backseat of the patrol car. The officers congregated around Mr. Walker and were talking to him, but none of the officers came to Crystal to get a statement from her about what had transpired.

After a period of time has passed, fire trucks begin arriving. Ms. Mangum does not recall seeing a fire hose being taken into the building by the firefighters. Eventually one of the firemen approached the patrol car and asked Crystal if she started the fire. Crystal denied setting the fire or knowing anything about the fire.

When she noticed that Mr. Walker had been freed of his manacles, she anticipated that she would be removed from the handcuffs as well, and asked Officer Tyler when he was going to take off the cuffs. He replied that she was going to jail and slammed the car door shut.

While being driven to jail, Ms. Mangum was still unaware of the gravity of the situation that faced her. In her assessment of the situation, she had definitely not attempted to kill Mr. Walker, she was the true victim of the assault, she did not initiate the fight, the 9-1-1 call was made with her welfare in mind, her physical actions were in self-defense, she did not set fire to clothes in the bathroom’s bathtub, she did not take clothes into the bathroom, she knew nothing about the fire in the bathroom, she did not vandalize a car, she did not know if her ex-boyfriend’s car had been vandalized, and she was cooperative with the authorities and offered no resistance to them. When Ms. Mangum heard the charges against her that were read later, she was totally flabbergasted.

Meanwhile, the biased mainstream media, including Newsweek magazine wrote stories about how Ms. Mangum was arrested for attempted first degree murder and for committing first degree arson (defined as: setting an occupied building or structure on fire). The media articles related how Ms. Mangum allegedly punched, scratched, and threw objects at Mr. Walker, but there was no mention that Mr. Walker initiated the altercation by punching Crystal in the face. Nor was there any mention about any prior charges of domestic abuse attributed to Mr.Walker, which I have been told included an ex-wife of Walker being punched in the face. Ms. Mangum stated that after being taken to the police station, photographs were taken of her bruised face, but not one of them was published or aired by the media.

The media, in general, stayed away from the car vandalism issue. In only one article could I even find any mention of damage to a car. Keith Upchurch, writer for The Herald-Sun newspaper, seemed to confirm that a car had been vandalized when he wrote that an empty black Lincoln with a shattered windshield and four flat tires was sitting in the driveway of Crystal’s apartment on the afternoon of February 18, 2010. (Police reports, however, described Milton Walker’s car as being a blue Oldsmobile Park Avenue.) When asked to see the Herald-Sun’s photographs of the vandalized car, Mr. Upchurch replied that no photographs had been taken.

Neither politicians nor civil rights organizations, such as the NAACP, came to the defense of Crystal Mangum. No one extended support or expressed outrage at Ms. Mangum’s treatment except for members of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong. Committee members wrote Ms. Mangum letters of support while she was held in the detention center, and made donations to her during her incarceration. Committee members wrote letters to judges, prosecutors, politicians, and others seeking dismissal of the charges and her release from custody. Committee members held a pray vigil for Ms. Mangum on May 15, 2010, in Durham. Committee member Vincent Edward Clark tried to raise money for Ms. Mangum’s bond, and upon reading about it in The Herald-Sun, Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Hammond, owners of Hammond & Hammond Bail Bondsman, Inc., made an impressive humanitarian gesture by putting up bond for Ms. Mangum pro bono. Since being released from jail, though still under house arrest, Ms. Mangum has been able to tell, firsthand, what happened the night of February 17, 2010. The aforementioned, according to Ms. Mangum, is what transpired, and it is believable, especially when considering the story pieced together by police and fire reports and media articles.

The piecemeal story offered by the authorities and media is as follows. Though no time was given for receipt of the 9-1-1 call placed by Mangum’s daughter, the police arrived before midnight on February 17, 2010. There was no documentation that I could find that stated that officers witnessed any physical altercation between Ms. Mangum and Mr. Walker. There was no documentation to support the claim by police that Ms. Mangum attempted to kill Mr. Walker. When officers brought Milton Walker into the house where Ms. Mangum was talking with Officers Tyler and Thompson, Ms. Mangum exploded into a tirade during which she is alleged to have stated, “I’m going to stab you, M-F.” There is no report that Ms. Mangum was armed when she made the statement. At this point, Mangum was apparently forced to the floor and handcuffed, the time of arrest recorded at 11:55 pm of February 17, 2010. It is unclear as to what time Officer Tyler allegedly saw Ms. Mangum put clothes in the bathroom, but he allegedly discovered the fire in the bathroom’s bathtub around 12:08 am, and placed a call at that time to the Durham Fire Department. At 12:09 am, nearly fourteen minutes after Ms. Mangum was arrested, the Durham Fire Department received the alarm, in which the police officer falsely indicated a structure fire was in progress with a subject trapped. What happened during the fourteen minutes from the time Ms. Mangum was handcuffed until Officer Tyler discovered the fire in the bathtub is a mystery for which there has been no accounting.

At approximately 12:15 am, six minutes after the alarm was sounded, the fire units arrived at Crystal’s apartment. There was no mention of what, if any, measures were taken by police to extinguish the burning clothes in the bathtub since the fire was allegedly discovered six minutes earlier. For example, there was no mention that the police officers turned on the bathtub faucets, which most people would consider a prudent course of action. On arrival firemen found the bathroom door closed, and upon opening it, observed that a fire was still visible in the bathtub. The estimated number of articles of clothing burned is never given, although a Herald-Sun article wrote, “They (Durham police) said she filled a bathtub with clothes and set them on fire.” Never in the fire report is there any mention of flame damage to the structure, only smoke damage. The only things burned by flames were apparently clothes. No reports contained any mention of what articles of clothing were burned, or whether or not only articles that belonged to Walker were burned. Because of extensive smoke damage in the bathroom, the firemen probably felt compelled to pull down the ceiling to rule out possible extension of the fire there; an action which accounted for the substantial amount of building damage resulting from this incident.

The authority’s version of events lacks credibility because it is vague, nonspecific, and illogical. Reasons for the charge of attempted first degree murder are never substantiated, use of the felony first degree arson charge is inaccurate and misleading because a structure was not burned, and it is unreasonable to believe that it was the intention of the fire-starter to burn anything other than the clothes in the bathtub. The identity theft charge lodged against Ms. Mangum was ludicrous, as were the three counts of child abuse. The charge of injury to personal property was never appropriately documented or justified. Ms. Mangum was designated by police as the offender in the domestic dispute without them even taking a statement from her. The most cursory look at this case brings up questions of misconduct and bias on the part of state authorities in prosecuting Ms. Mangum in what would appear to the objective and casual observer to be nothing more than payback for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case.

Unable to afford an attorney, Ms. Mangum is being represented by an attorney from Durham’s Public Defender Office. The public defender is an employee of the state, and it is the state which pays his salary and is responsible for his advancement in the ranks, or lack thereof. When issues of misconduct and malfeasance by state officials and/or governmental agencies occur against a defendant, a public defender is automatically placed in a compromised position with an inherent conflict of interest. As Mark Twain once said, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a man playing golf with his boss.” Crystal Mangum’s public defender is, in essence, playing golf with his boss. For him to aggressively and appropriately defend his client, would require exposing government officers and agents of misdeeds. For him to successfully defend his client would not be beneficial to his career, and could very well be detrimental to it. There is a definite conflict of interest issue with the flawed vendetta case against Ms. Mangum. To best serve his interests, he is under pressure to work with the prosecutor and try and persuade Ms. Mangum to accept a plea deal… any deal as long as she pleads guilty to a charge that would take the state off the hook for a possible civil suit filed by Ms. Mangum. She’s holding a royal flush, and the public defender’s goal is to persuade her to fold.

This vendetta payback case against Ms. Mangum was a plea deal case from the onset, as Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca had no intention of prosecuting the case in court because she had no case. The prosecutor was relying on the public defender to help get the defendant to accept a plea deal. However, much leverage was lost by the prosecution when angelic bail bondsmen appeared unexpectedly and bonded Ms. Mangum from the detention center.

So, regarding the most serious of the charges for which Ms. Mangum is currently under house arrest, felony first degree arson, the prosecution has not made its case. It lacks credible evidence. All charges against Crystal Mangum should be immediately dismissed and she should be released from custody, period.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Million dollar bail… a case comparison – Part 9

On or about April 7, 2010, in Elizabeth City, NC, six men were arrested for the brutal beating of Travis Howard. Heavily outnumbered in what he stated was an unprovoked attack at a nightclub, Mr. Howard sustained four skull fractures in the incident. In addition, he stated that he suffered a broken nose, concussion, and sprained neck. Five of his attackers were Special Forces soldiers who were in the area for training exercises in Camden County. The sixth man is listed as a resident from Jacksonville, FL, although the media reports are conflicting and uncertain as to his military status. All six were charged with felony assault inflicting serious bodily injury, but none were charged with attempted first degree murder. All six men were released without bond after promising in writing that they would be in attendance for their scheduled July 12, 2010 court event.

More recently, Gregory Boykin, a 29 year-old Wake County resident was arrested and charged with raping a 6 year-old girl. He faces charges of first degree rape of a child and three counts of felony sex offense with a child for offenses which allegedly took place in May 2009. Initially bail was set for Mr. Boykin in the amount of $500,000 with a condition that if he made bond he would be placed on electronic house arrest. However, on June 11, 2010, Wake District Court Judge Jennifer Knox reduced his bail to $300,000 and ruled that he would not be confined to house arrest if he bonded out of jail while awaiting trial. Currently, he remains in jail.

Parents of a five month-old boy were arrested in May 2010 and charged with child abuse. The infant sustained fractures of the skull, rib, and arm from an incident that, according to court documents, occurred several months earlier. Neither of the parents was charged with attempted first degree murder, and they were placed in custody under $100,000 bail.

Three cases cited above are for comparison with Crystal Mangum’s case. They illustrate the disparity and severity of the treatment to which Ms. Mangum has been subjected since her arrest on February 17, 2010.

Crystal Mangum did not inflict serious injury in her dispute with her ex-boyfriend on the night of February 17, 2010. According to police reports, she allegedly scratched him and threw punches at him. Yet, she was accused of attempted first degree murder (when no weapon was involved), and held under a $1 million bail. However five of the six member mob who attacked Travis Howard were highly skilled fighters from the Special Forces of the Army. Although they savagely beat Mr. Howard, they were released without bail.

Bail is a legal tool used to assure that a suspect who is released from custody prior to trial is in attendance at trial. Large sums of money or secured property are used as incentives to assure the suspect complies with the court calendar and mandates. In most cases, the higher the bond, the greater the flight risk of the suspect/defendant. In the case of Gregory Boykin, the judge or magistrate who set the initial bail of $500,000 made a condition similar to that imposed by Judge Claude Allen in Crystal Mangum’s case. The condition being that if bonded out, he/she would be released from jail, but be placed under monitored house arrest. In other words, after paying bond, they would still be in custody. Judge Jennifer Knox, when she reduced Mr. Boykin’s bail to $300,000, removed the condition that if he bonded out he would be under house arrest. In other words, she overruled the condition previously imposed. Judge Paul Ridgeway, when he reduced Ms. Mangum’s bail, had the opportunity to rescind the house arrest condition regarding bond, but he chose not to use it. So after Ms. Mangum’s $100,000 bond was satisfied, she was still in custody… under electronic monitored house arrest.

Undoubtedly, Judge Knox ruled properly when she removed the house arrest condition for pre-trial release of the defendant from custody. In this same respect, Judge Paul Ridgeway erred. The bail was placed to assure that Ms. Mangum would attend court dates if released from custody. She unexpectedly satisfied the bond requirements (thanks to the benevolent and generous actions of Mr. and Mrs. Hammond) and she should be free, instead of still being held in custody… albeit in a residential setting instead of the Durham County Detention Center. Judge Allen’s condition for bond for Ms. Mangum flies in the face of the true meaning of for having bail. His actions constitute a tiered level of confinement which is unevenly, unjustly, and often inappropriately applied. Ms. Mangum, for example, does not represent a flight risk. She’s a Durham resident, does not have the financial wherewithal to leave the state, country… much less, city of Durham. Her dedication as a mother is unquestioned, and therefore it is unlikely that she would take flight and leave her children behind. In addition, the crime for which she is alleged to have committed is bogus, and would not withstand a courtroom trial. The prosecution doesn’t even plan to go to trial because it knows it has no case against Ms. Mangum… their strategy is to strong-arm her into a plea deal on a so-called lesser charge in exchange for time served (strategy effectively used in the James Arthur Johnson case).

Although house arrest is not as oppressive as incarceration behind bars, it still represents a significant impediment to living a normal life. Prior to her arrest, Ms. Mangum was enrolled in graduate school pursuing a Masters degree, while being gainfully employed, and raising three children. Since being placed under house arrest, these activities have been put on hold, at taxpayer expense. Electronic monitoring, supervised leave to run errands, and associated paperwork come with a price tag that is being paid by the state.

It was an outrage for Magistrate B. Wakil to initially attach a $1 million bail with the arrest of Ms. Mangum, and it is a further outrage for her to be subjected to house arrest after she bonded out of the $100,000 bail. A comparison of cases will clearly show the discrepancies in the way punishment is selectively meted out by the North Carolina courts… and this is the biggest outrage of all.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When it comes to injustice, Duke LAX case doesn’t even merit mention

In yesterday’s issue of the News & Observer, an article by staff writer Mandy Locke titled “Former Dix inmate sues SBI agents” tries to dredge up sympathy for the Duke Lacrosse defendants by making a comparison with the injustice Floyd Brown sustained. In what is essentially media blasphemy, she stretches to make a connection between the situations faced by Floyd Brown and the three Duke Lacrosse defendants. Floyd Brown is a mentally retarded man who was held for fourteen years without a trial by Anson County District Attorney Michael D. Parker. Per its customary PAPEN Policy (Protect All Prosecutors Except Nifong), the prosecutor’s name is never mentioned in the article. Mr. Brown was finally released from custody when a judge from outside of Anson County ruled that he was being held unlawfully. There was no “credible evidence” or any evidence linking Brown to a murder for which he was charged, but never tried. Brown’s fourteen years of confinement were made harder by Parker’s refusal of the staff’s request to allow Brown to have lunch with family, or a day trip to the fair. And after Brown was released, with arrangements made by state social workers for his placement in an assisted living facility, a vindictive Parker went out of his way to disrupt Brown’s disposition. Further arrangements for housing for Brown were made secretly to prevent the D.A. from continuing to maliciously interfere with housing plans. In addition, the charge against Brown by D.A. Parker was based solely on a written confession attributed to Brown that experts claimed he was too retarded to have made.

Contrast Floyd Brown’s situation with the three Duke Lacrosse defendants who did not spend one day in jail, received $7 million each in an out-of-court settlement with Duke University, enjoyed the benefit of being proclaimed “innocent” by Attorney General Roy Cooper during his April 11, 2007 “Innocent Promulgation,” were coddled by the biased media, and are suing the cash-strapped city of Durham for an additional $10 million each… in the words of their attorney “so nothing like this ever happens to anyone else.” Yet, they are claiming that they were denied due process. How? This claim is obviously a bluff, and the Carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants and their greedy attorneys were expecting the city to roll over just like Duke University. They have no intention of carrying out this lawsuit because they have no case.

The media should be ashamed to even mention the Duke Lacrosse case when it comes to injustice, especially with innocents such as Alan Gell who was falsely convicted of capital murder by Prosecutor David Hoke, and Darryl Hunt in Winston-Salem. These men mentioned in the article, along with others such as Erick Daniels, Gregory Taylor, and James Arthur Johnson are some of the true victims of North Carolina’s justice system, and they have all served excessively long unjust incarceration on convictions made without credible evidence.

One of the most recent victims of injustice is Crystal Mangum, the accuser in the Duke Lacrosse case. Durham Prosecutor Angela Garcia-Lamarca is trying to do her best to get a plea deal with Ms. Mangum, now that she is under electronic house arrest and not in an oppressive jail cell. Initially the prosecutor tried to have Ms. Mangum plead guilty to the arson charge and serve a two year jail sentence… as though that was a really great offer. The problem is that the prosecutors have no case against Ms. Mangum, and they know that they would be thoroughly embarrassed if they took their case to court. No credible evidence… nothing. The Mangum prosecution’s position is similar to that of Prosecutor Bill Wolfe’s in the James Arthur Johnson case, in which, to the relief of the prosecution, Johnson accepted an Alford plea on a flimsy charge to avoid the possibility of being returned to jail. The Mangum prosecution’s retaliatory motivation is similar to that of Alan Gell who currently in prison for charges brought as a vendetta against him after he filed lawsuits and complaints for his earlier false murder conviction. Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca, Judges Claude Allen and Paul Ridgeway, and the Durham Police and Fire departments, along with the media, are all focused on punishing Crystal Mangum for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case. The charges for which she was arrested on February 17, 2010 were merely a means of imposing an indefinite sentence on Ms. Mangum without her being convicted of a crime.

Some media outlets have attempted to mitigate the suffering of Ms. Mangum by falsely reporting, shortly after her arrest, that she was under house arrest on a $250,000 bail. NBC-17 and Newsweek magazine both made the false claims although Ms. Mangum actually spent approximately 90 days at the Durham Detention Center, and is currently under house arrest after the posting of bond. Almost without exception, however, the media goes out of its way to give the Duke Lacrosse players (who attended the beer-guzzling stripper party with under-aged drinking and racial epithets) a positive and sympathetic look. But there is no way that Duke Lacrosse defendants comes close to enduring the hardship and suffering of Floyd Brown, Alan Gell, Crystal Mangum, and others.

However, what I don’t understand is why Floyd Brown’s attorneys are going after the investigators. Surely the SBI agents and sheriff’s deputies acted no more deliberately and in bad faith than lead prosecutor Michael Parker. It was Prosecutor Parker who was responsible for Floyd Brown being unlawfully held fourteen years, not the investigators. Maybe Brown’s attorneys are extending a professional courtesy to Prosecutor Parker by not filing a law suit against him. But, then, the North Carolina State Bar did not even feel motivated enough by the injustice against Brown to initiate its own complaint against Michael Parker. Whereas in the Duke Lacrosse case, the State Bar was quick to lob an ethics complaint against the Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in order to force him off the case as the prosecutor.

Bottom line is that Floyd Brown deserves compensation for the atrocious injustices he suffered at the hands of Anson County Prosecutor Michael Parker… the defendants in the Duke Lacrosse case, on the other hand, do not even deserve mention.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mangum prosecutors’ strategy is as clear as crystal

I have long maintained that the Durham prosecutorial strategy related to Crystal Mangum was one in which Prosecutor Angela Garcia-Lamarca would move the Mangum case along through the courts at glacial speed, to assure that Ms. Mangum would spend a significant time behind bars to satisfy the “unofficial” sentence imposed by the Powers-That-Be for committing the “unofficial” crime of accusing three Duke Lacrosse defendants of sexually assaulting her during their infamous March 2006 Spring Break beer-guzzling stripper party. Additional perks to the lengthy malicious retaliatory sentence would be to saddle Ms. Mangum with a significant criminal record, disrupt her life by interfering with her employment and academic pursuits, and to help see to it that social services have grounds to remove her three children from her custody.

This stratagem of having Ms. Mangum carry out her sentence without being convicted of a crime is obviously apparent due to the excessively high $1 million bail set initially for Ms. Mangum by Magistrate B. Wakil. The excessive bail was made palatable by the Durham Police charging her on arrest with bogus charges such as the following which include: (1) felony attempted first degree murder; (2) assault and battery; (3) felony identity theft; and (4) communicating threats. Prosecutors never had the intention of pursuing these charges as they were used only to attain a high bail – which they successfully accomplished. These charges were never even brought before the grand jury when the indictments related to events of February 17, 2010 were sought six and a half weeks later.

Judge Claude Allen could not justify the million dollar bail imposed by the magistrate (especially after the five counts of felony first degree arson were whittled to one), and he reduced her bail to $250,000… still an extremely high bail under the circumstances, and an amount which he believed would be safely out of reach for Ms. Mangum, her family or her supporters. But to insure that she remained in custody in order to serve her indeterminate “sentence,” the crafty judge made a condition that in the event that she was to make bond, that she would then be placed under house arrest. (In my opinion, this was part of the plan worked out in conjunction with the Carpetbagger Jihad agenda, and Judge Allen was merely playing his role. For example, it is my belief that this condition for bail has never been imposed by Judge Allen in the past… and is so illogical a condition that it has rarely, if ever, been imposed by any North Carolina judge, period.)

Although Judge Paul Ridgeway later reduced the bail to $100,000, he left intact Judge Allen’s condition that if the bond was satisfied, that Mangum would be released from jail to house arrest. It seems that Judge Ridgeway was on board with the ruse to circumvent obtaining a conviction before having Ms. Mangum serve a sentence. In other words, he went along with the “cart before the horse” plan to have Ms. Mangum serve her sentence without being convicted of a crime.

The early indication that the charges against Ms. Mangum were baseless is the fact that Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca sought to have the charges entered in the secrecy of a grand jury indictment, rather than in open court, as initially scheduled. On Monday, April 5, 2010, when the hearing was to take place in the open Durham courtroom, Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca feigned illness and did not show up, only later that day to have the charges against Ms. Mangum brought forth in a grand jury indictment behind closed doors. The charges leveled against Ms. Mangum were pitiful, to say the least. Felony first degree arson was based on Ms. Mangum’s actions of burning a few articles of clothing belonging to her ex-boyfriend. By definition, burning clothes, whether in a bathtub, in a fireplace, or in an oven, does not satisfy the definition of “arson” and this charge is undoubtedly baseless. This is the kind of action by prosecutors that makes North Carolina justice a laughing stock of the nation. The three charges of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile are tortuously linked to the merit-less arson charge and therefore should be summarily discarded, too.

The injury to personal property is particularly troublesome in that the police reports and prosecutor notes used in the grand jury indictment refer to nonspecific vandalism to a car’s windshield and tires. Except for one vague reference in the media, this vandalism that is attributed to Ms. Mangum is never mentioned in the news coverage. Its legitimacy is immediately brought into question, and leads an objective observer to believe that it was added by police to bring the amount of personal property damage to a figure greater than $200. Without doubt, the dollar amount of the burnt clothing in the bathtub amounted to less than $200. Had Ms. Mangum truly been responsible for causing damage to her ex-boyfriend’s car, it is a safe bet that she would have been charged with vandalism, as well.

Finally, the charge of obstructing a public official’s investigation into the domestic dispute by giving a false name is totally ludicrous. The police officers knew her identity before they asked for her identity. Had they been unaware of her true identity, Ms. Mangum would never have been arrested, no charges would have been brought against her, and her ex-boyfriend, if anyone, would have been the one taken into custody.

The above explains in detail why Prosecutor Garcia-Lamarca has no case against Crystal Mangum, and why all charges against her should be immediately dismissed and why Ms. Mangum should be released from custody.

Now some blog commenters have questioned how do I know what the prosecution strategy is and do I have proof to back up my statements about its future plans in this case. I have not had the privilege of sitting in on the prosecutors’ strategy sessions and have no incriminating e-mails or other documents in my possession. What I do have, however, is common sense, and a history of what has taken place in the North Carolina justice system in the past… especially the James Arthur Johnson case. The following are obvious:
(1) the prosecution has no case against Ms. Mangum. In poker it would be the equivalent of the state having a worthless hand and Ms. Mangum holding a full house, or better. The prosecution knows that it cannot win based on the merits of the case, alone;
(2) instead of dismissing the charges and releasing Ms. Mangum from custody, the state bluffs with its losing hand, and continues to prosecute;
(3) the prosecution hopes that the Ms. Mangum, with her full house, will fold by accepting a plea deal… and they are counting on the public defender’s office to help convince Ms. Mangum to accept the deal… a deal in which she will plead guilty to some kind of charge and be sentenced to time served.

This is the way the scenario basically played out in the James Arthur Johnson case, and this is the direction that this case is assuredly taking. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see with crystal clarity the prosecution’s plans for working the case against Crystal Mangum. It’s no mystery, in fact, it is all very elementary.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The tandem bails of Crystal Mangum should be illegal

The lunacy of events which mark the travesty of justice against Duke Lacrosse accuser Crystal Mangum is highlighted by the unique tandem bail scenario which engulfs her. Bail is supposed to be a fiduciary means to insure that a suspect attends future court hearings on charges against him/her while being temporarily free pending a final verdict. In Ms. Mangum’s case, Judge Claude Allen ruled, as a condition of being released from the Durham County Detention Center on bond, that Ms. Mangum be placed under house arrest. This is unheard of! In other words, Judge Allen, when he reduced Ms. Mangum’s bail from one million dollars to $250,000, stated that in the event Ms. Mangum was to satisfy the bail, she would be released from jail, but still be placed under house arrest… she would still be in custody. This begs the question, should her attorney seek a bail hearing for her custody under house arrest, or is a second bail automatically denied? These are undoubtedly untested and troubling waters as nothing this ridiculous has ever been tried before. In the attempt to comply with the Carpetbagger Jihad agenda of inflicting as much suffering as possible on Ms. Mangum, Judge Allen stepped beyond the bounds of legality, decency, objectivity, and reason when he made the singular ruling pertaining to Ms. Mangum’s ability to satisfy her initial bail. Subsequent Judge Paul Ridgeway did not deem it necessary to correct this judicial blunder by his colleague, Allen.

The reason Judge Allen imposed the tandem bail condition against Ms. Mangum was to assure that she would remain in custody after the bail was lowered to $250,000. With the prosecutor’s inability to pursue the attempted first degree murder charge and other heaped-on charges against Ms. Mangum with a straight face, the million dollar bail had to be reduced, but the courts kept it high, with the intention that she would be unable to afford bond. Totally unsuspected by the prosecutors and courts was the thought that bail bondsmen would emerge like angels from the heavens and satisfy Ms. Mangum’s $100,000 bail pro bono… but that’s exactly what happened. The benevolent and generous owners of Hammond & Hammond Bailbondsmen, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. Lonnie Hammond made bond for Ms. Mangum, free of charge, after they became aware of Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong member Ed Clark’s attempt to raise funds to pay a bail bondsmen. Thanks to their humanitarian efforts, Crystal Mangum is no longer holed up in the detention center, but she is far from being free… she remains in custody at home under electronic monitoring. One hurdle has been cleared with her release from jail, but another has materialized in the form of house arrest… a second obstacle to her freedom and something which should not exist.

Judge Allen’s imposition of the backup house arrest scheme, gives credence to the premise that Ms. Mangum’s high bail, coupled with the molasses-like movement of the prosecution, is nothing more than a way to skirt the law by forcing Mangum to serve a sentence without being convicted of a crime. And the crime for which she is serving her current sentence has nothing to do with the charges for which she has been arrested… she is serving time for having the gall to accuse three Duke lacrosse boys (from families of wealth, status, and privilege) of sexually assaulting her.

The charges against Ms. Mangum are as flimsy and flaky as those conjured up by the North Carolina State Bar against former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong in his disbarment hearing. In pursuing these unjustified charges in order to make Ms. Mangum serve an indeterminate sentence without being first convicted of a crime, the state’s police department, fire department, prosecutors and courts make themselves a laughing stock in the following ways: (1) the Durham Police Department for excessively charging and overcharging Ms. Mangum; (2) the Durham Police for allowing the burning clothes in the bathtub to cause smoke damage to the apartment, and calling the fire department instead of just turning on the faucet to put out the fire; (3) the Durham Fire Department for lugging a fire hose to the bathroom to extinguish the fire instead of turning on the faucet; (4) the questionable validity of vandalism charges to an automobile which was used by prosecutors to help secure a grand jury indictment for an injury to personal property charge; (5) the excessive bail set by Magistrate B. Wakil of $1 million; and (6) the attempt to make a case for first degree arson out of carefully executed controlled burn of clothing articles in a bathtub with running water readily available.

The charges currently pending against Mangum are so ridiculous that Prosecutor Angela Garcia-Lamarca has no intention of going to court to prosecute them. Her plan is to work with the public defender representing Ms. Mangum to accept a plea deal to a “lesser charge” in exchange for time served… and it is anybody’s guess how long the amount of time served by Ms. Mangum will be. Since the prosecution controls the docket, it may last for years. That is what happened in the James Arthur Johnson case, where Johnson was held for 39 months without a trial. In that case, prosecutor Bill Wolfe repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to get Johnson to accept a plea deal, and when it came time for the trial to take place, Wilson District Attorney Howard S. Boney Jr. called for a special prosecutor (using the pretext of wanting Johnson to have a fair trial… the fact being that he had no case against Johnson).

The best course for prosecutors to follow in the fiasco surrounding Ms. Mangum’s arrest is to immediately dismiss all charges against Crystal Mangum, and close the file. Not to do so is a slap in the face of Lady Justice at taxpayer expense. Police, prosecutors and the courts should treat all suspects fairly and equally in order to serve all the people in North Carolina… they should not apply justice disparately to suspects and defendants in order to satisfy the demands of a few well-heeled privileged. To do so these public servants, prosecutors, and judges make a mockery of the state’s system of justice, and make the state’s justice system the laughing stock of the nation.