Saturday, March 23, 2013

Durham prosecutors need to dismiss the “larceny of chose in action” charge against Crystal Mangum

Part One

Part Two

LINK to Interactive Flog below:

Transcribed Text
Word count: 2,126

On the morning of Sunday, April 3, 2011, Reginald Daye told first responder police and paramedics that he and Crystal Mangum were arguing over money prior to the stabbing incident.

Daye claimed that Mangum, who gained notoriety in the media as the Duke Lacrosse victim/accuser, either took his money or refused to return his money… his story on this point not being consistent. Never once in these early interviews with police and investigators did Daye, or his nephew Carlos Wilson, ever mention that she had taken cashier’s checks or money orders… leaving the impression that she had stolen cash.

Durham police and investigators also failed to ask how much cash was allegedly taken by Ms. Mangum. According to police reports, the question is never asked by Durham’s Finest, and Daye and Wilson never voluntarily mentioned the amount of cash allegedly stolen.

Without even having the opportunity to give her statement as to what transpired leading up to the stabbing of Daye, Crystal Mangum was arrested on sight within hours of the incident and charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill.

According to Durham officer Marianne Bond, Mangum wanted to make a statement, but before she could, she was informed that she had been arrested and was read her Miranda Rights which stated that anything she said could be used against her. Officer Bond then asked Mangum if she wanted to answer some questions at which time she declined, and the so-called interview was terminated.

Daye underwent successful trauma surgery hours after his admission to Duke University Hospital through its emergency department… his prognosis was for a full recovery.

According to Officer Bond’s report, during an interview with Daye the next day, Monday, April 4, 2011, he admitted that he gave two cashier’s checks to Mangum for safekeeping. The checks totaled seven hundred dollars and were to be used to cover April rent.

More importantly, he admitted that the argument early the previous day had nothing to do with money or finances, but rather with her disrespect towards him… in particular, her flirtatious ways with other men.

On the third postoperative day,Wednesday, April 6, 2011, complications from delirium tremens set in, Daye was moved to intensive care, and an endotracheal tube was accidentally placed in his esophagus instead of his airway. By the time the grave mistake was realized, Daye was brain dead and in cardiac arrest. After twenty minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, spontaneous restoration of circulation was achieved, but he remained in what was determined to be an irreversible coma.

After a week of monitoring his condition under an umbrella of media silence, Daye, having shown no signs of improvement, was electively taken off life support, and he died… the evening of April 13, 2011.

Up until the time of Reginald Daye’s death, Mangum had been charged only with assault with a deadly weapon. She had not been charged with larceny, larceny of chose in action, or any other crime.

The following Monday, April 18, 2011, Durham Prosecutor Kelly Gauger obtained a grand jury indictment against Mangum for first degree murder in the death of Reginald Daye. The prosecutor had also gotten an indictment for two counts of ‘larceny of chose in action’ against Mangum related to the two cashier’s checks that Daye admitted to have given her and which were in her possession at the time of her arrest. Both cashier’s checks were filled out with Daye as remitter and the apartment complex as the payee. Magnum had no ability to convert them for her own personal use even if she wanted, and Daye never was without the ability to redeem their cash value… provided he did so before they were cashed by the payee.

Larceny of chose in action is a loophole law in which neither of its two primary elements was met. Mangum was given the cashier’s checks… she did not steal or unlawfully take them. Furthermore, she merely held on to them per Daye’s request… making no attempt to alter or convert them for her use. There was no crime committed by Mangum.

However, Prosecutor Gauger, and her successor, Charlene Coggins-Franks, held on to the charge because it was automatically a class H felony… and the prosecution needed a felony for the “felony-murder rule” to be applicable. This problematic and controversial rule enables prosecutors to saddle criminals with first degree murder if an individual dies during the commission of a felony.

A vendetta prosecution from day one as payback against Mangum for her role in the Duke Lacrosse case, Gauger and Coggins-Franks were seeking a life sentence against her… something that a conviction on a first degree murder charge could assure. And that was the purpose for the charge of “larceny of chose in action”… to guarantee that Mangum spend the remainder of her life incarcerated.

“Larceny of chose in action” charge should be immediately dismissed as the charge lacks probable cause… the elements of the charge missing in this case. Prosecution lacks an eyewitness to the alleged taking of the documents. Not only that, but Daye admits that he gave the checks to Mangum.

The prosecution has failed to present a plausible theory or a motive for Mangum to allegedly steal two cashier’s checks that were filled out and that she could not convert. The prosecution has yet to present a consistent scenario of events involving the cashier’s checks and the stabbing incident… and it has failed to present a connection between the two that is substantiated by their discovery.

Dropping the criminal charge against Mangum definitely would not be precedent setting, as charges throughout the state and especially in Durham County have been dismissed recently… specifically charges against Stephanie Nickerson, Michael Dorman, Stephen Lavance Oates, Shielda Evelyn Harris and Sheila Moses, and Erick Daniels.

Late in October 2012, 25-year old Navy veteran Stephanie Nickerson was at a friend’s house when Durham Police arrived on a noise complaint. When the police wanted to enter the house, Ms. Nickerson advised the house owner that she did not have to allow the police in without a search warrant. This prompted the police officer to grab Nickerson’s wrists to place them behind her back to make an arrest. When she jerked her hands away, the officer threw her to the ground and began punching her in the face.

Nickerson sustained a broken nose, black eye, and swollen lip as a result of the beating and was charged with resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. These charges, of course, were without probable cause, and they were subsequently dropped a short time later by the Durham District Attorney’s Office.

In August 2011, Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson dismissed a murder charge against Michael Dorman. Prosecutors claim Dorman inadvertently killed a woman he was attempting to rape. When apprehended years later, he had her bones in his backpack.

In his order, Hudson stated that defendant Dorman was unable to receive a fair trial because of the destruction of important evidence… the woman’s skeletal remains had been released to the victim’s family and were cremated.

It is interesting to note that Judge Hudson accused the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, the Durham Police Department, and the State Medical Examiner’s office of conspiring to destroy evidence and violate Dorman’s right to a fair trial. These are the same claims made by the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong in Mangum’s current murder charge… specifically that the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, the Durham Police Department, and the State Medical Examiner’s office conspired in producing a trumped up autopsy report on Reginald Daye.

Around February 22, 2013, Durham prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Stephen Lavance Oates in the 2008 death of Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato. The Durham prosecutor, in his order requesting the dismissal, stated that the State had been unable to locate a key witness and that it had “no other available and admissible evidence.” Oates’ attorney, Mark Edwards, had been lobbying for more than a year to have the case thrown out.

Mr. Edwards stated that the Oates case illustrated a “troubling pattern in the Durham police department.” He could have easily gone further with the inclusion in that pattern of the post-Nifong Durham District Attorney’s Office.

On June 12, 2012, Durham prosecutors dropped charges against Sheilda Evelyn Harris and Sheila Moses, respectively the mother and sister of Peter Lucas Moses Jr., a cult leader who pled guilty to murders of Antoinetta Yvonne McCoy, and five year-old Jadon Higganbothan. The two had been held on charges of “accessory after the fact of murder.” No reason was given by prosecutors for their dismissal.

In September 2000, a home-invasion style armed robbery took place in Durham, and 14 year-old Erick Daniels was convicted of the crime despite the lack of evidence and not even having the appearance of the perpetrator… Erick’s hair was close cropped and the description of the robber was that he had cornrows. The chief witness in the case picked him out of a middle school yearbook based on the shape of his eyebrows. Durham police led him out of his middle school in handcuffs. He was sentenced to ten to fourteen years.

Erick Daniels always maintained his innocence and even passed a lie-detector test in 2003. In late 2004, Durham attorney Carlos Mahoney took up his case, and despite a January 2007 denial by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, he fought on for his client.

In September 2008, Durham prosecutors, knowing that they had a weak case against him, offered him an Alford plea deal in exchange for his immediate release from custody with seven years of time served. Had Erick Daniels accepted the plea deal he would have been forever labeled a felon with an armed robbery conviction. He declined… placing his faith in Attorney Mahoney.

During two days of a September 2008 hearing in which Mahoney sought a new trial for his client, the evidence he presented before Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson was so strong and convincing that the black rober took the initiative of dropping the felony charge and declaring Daniels innocent.

Judge Hudson specifically stated, “I would order a new trial if I were satisfied that this defendant committed this crime and the state could prove it. I have no confidence the defendant committed these charges.”

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue denied Erick Daniels’ petition for a Pardon of Innocence… thereby preventing him from receiving compensation as mandated by legislation for his more than seven years of wrongful incarceration.

In cases outside of Durham, a first degree murder charge was dismissed against Knightdale resident Carletta Patrice Alston. She was charged by Wake County Prosecutor Tom Ford in the June 2009 death of her stepfather Michael Donnell Smith. The weight of the case against her consisted of gunpowder residue found on her nightgown and the fact that her account of what transpired during the early morning hours of the shooting differed from that of a neighbor.

Alston’s defense attorney pointed out to the court that the residue on the nightgown could easily be due to contamination by the lab… as there was no gunpowder residue on her hands.

At the time of her arrest, Alston had been working at two jobs at nursing homes and was hoping to save enough money to move from the residence she shared with her mother and stepfather into her own apartment. Even though the charge has since been expunged from her record, she has had difficulty landing employment because of it.

She was held in jail for nearly a year before Ford dropped the charges, without explanation or comment, and she was released.

There are other examples I could recite where baseless and reckless charges resulted in many months and years of the wrongful incarceration of innocents… but that would be superfluous.

The charges against Crystal Mangum are baseless, bogus, and vendetta-driven. Both charges she now faces are without merit and malicious and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The prosecutors should have dropped charges against her or a judge dismissed them long ago.

Now that Ms. Mangum is out on bond, the prosecutors are without their bargaining chip needed to help secure a plea deal. Although neither charge is supported by probable cause, and both are deserving to be dismissed, the “larceny of chose in action” is most egregious, and was obviously utilized with malice in the State’s sadistic plot to saddle Crystal Mangum with a life sentence.

One thing you can rest assured of… these criminally cruel antics would not be taking place if Mike Nifong was still the Durham County district attorney. 