Seven jurors chosen for Mangum’s murder trial

Nov. 12, 2013 @ 07:59 PM
Seven of 12 jurors were chosen Tuesday in the murder trial of Crystal Mangum, charged in the April 2011 stabbing death of her boyfriend.

Five more jurors and two alternates remain to be selected in Durham County Superior Court before testimony begins.

Mangum, 34, who made false allegations of rape against three Duke University lacrosse players seven years ago, is accused of killing 46-year-old Reginald Daye with a kitchen knife during an argument at his apartment on Century Oaks Drive.

She has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense and saying she was a victim of domestic violence.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, defense attorney Daniel Meier and Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks questioned prospective jurors about their knowledge of the lacrosse case.

Many said they knew about it. Some said they had formed strong opinions about Mangum in that nationally publicized case, but most said they could set their opinions aside and fairly weigh the evidence in her murder trial.

Some were excused from serving after saying their opinions about Mangum and the lacrosse case would prevent them from giving her a fair trial.

Earlier in the day, Durham County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied a defense request to delay the trial. The defense cited a possible problem with a potential witness, Dr. Clay Nichols, a medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Daye.

Nichols is the focus of an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation about work he did in another autopsy.

The judge said “the subject matter of that investigation does not relate in any way to this case.”

Mangum drew national publicity in March 2006 when she alleged that three players on the Duke lacrosse team raped her at a party at the house of two of the team’s captains on Buchanan Boulevard, across from East Campus.

In 2007, Attorney General Roy Cooper dropped all charges and declared the players innocent, saying they were victims of a “tragic rush to accuse.”

Mangum was arrested in 2010 on arson and other charges, accused of setting fire to her live-in boyfriend’s clothes in a bathtub. A jury deadlocked on the arson charge, but she was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer.

She was sentenced to 88 days in jail.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, the judge told jurors the trial could last past Thanksgiving.

If jury selection is completed today, opening statements from the defense and prosecution are expected Thursday.