Crystal Mangum's attorney seeks to suppress evidence

Staff writerNovember 30, 2010 

— DURHAM -- Crystal Mangum’s attorney is trying to suppress all evidence against her, saying police illegally entered her duplex home during a February domestic disturbance call.

Officers testified Tuesday they initially thought Mangum was the victim when they found her and her three children in the home at 2220 Lincoln St. just before midnight on Feb. 17.

But when her then-boyfriend Milton Walker returned to the home shirtless, shoeless and shivering, with scratches on his arms and saying he had been waiting in the bushes for police to arrive, officers didn’t know what to believe.

Officer Hilary Thompson testified that Mangum lunged over her shoulder, threatening to stab Walker, whom another officer had brought inside to warm up and give his side of the story. At that point, according to Thompson and her supervisor Corp. John Tyler, they arrested Mangum for communicating threats.

As they struggled to carry her out the door to a patrol car, Tyler said he smelled smoke and realized it was coming from the bathroom, where they’d seen Mangum carrying piles of clothing when they first arrived. When Tyler opened the door, flames leapt from the tub, he said.

Charges of communicating threats and attempted murder were eventually dropped, but Mangum still faces first-degree arson, three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, injury to personal property, and resisting an officer. Mangum could go to trial on those charges later this week.

Judge Abraham Penn Jones heard a pre-trial motion Tuesday, with assistant district attorney Mark McCullough trying to show that police had probable cause for entering Mangum’s home without her permission after one of her children called 911 saying she and Walker were fighting. Mangum’s attorney Mani Dexter repeatedly pointed out her client had asked police to leave before Walker returned to the home.

Mangum famously accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape in 2006. With members of the activist Friends of Crystal Mangum in the audience, Jones barred any witnesses and lawyers on both side from talking to the media. Dexter also warned Mangum against talking openly about the case with her supporters, saying media coverage could keep her from getting a fair trial.

jesse.deconto@newsobserver.com or 919-932-8760

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