Crystal Mangum's attorney withdraws from murder case

CorrespondentMay 1, 2012 

— Crystal Mangum’s attorney withdrew from her defense Tuesday, saying she had compromised the case by sharing information with supporters who rallied for her the same day.

“The truth will set Crystal Mangum free,” said Sidney Harr, of the Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong, which held a press conference Tuesday morning outside the Durham County jail.

Mangum, 33, is charged with the murder of Reginald Daye, 46. Police found Daye with one stab wound in the torso April 3 at Mangum’s 3507 Century Oaks Drive apartment. Mangum was charged with murder after Daye died April 13. She remains in jail under $200,000 bail.

Committee members said they are trying to protect Mangum from a corrupt judicial system that is punishing her for accusing three Duke lacrosse players of rape in 2006. Attorney General Roy Cooper concluded there was no rape, and former District Attorney Mike Nifong lost his law license over it. Committee members said they believe Mangum’s initial account and want Nifong’s law license reinstated.

Harr said Mangum’s murder charge should be dismissed because she stabbed Daye with a steak knife in self-defense after he punched her, dragged her by her hair, kicked down a locked bathroom door, and continued to abuse her.

Harr, a retired physician, also said Daye didn’t die from complications from the stab wound, as listed in autopsy report, but from a “mistake” made by Duke University Medical Center. Efforts to reach Duke officials for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Harr said hospital staff, likely to address an issue unrelated to the stab wound, incorrectly placed a tracheal tube in Daye, which led to cardiac arrest. The tube was removed and another was inserted in the correct position, Harr said. Daye was resuscitated, but his brain cells had been deprived of oxygen for too long. He died after being taken off life support, Harr said, citing hospital records that the committee has placed on its website.

“The autopsy report does not in any way show a connection between the stab wound and Daye’s being taken off life support,” Harr said. “You’ve got an autopsy report that is fraudulent.”

Efforts to reach Medical Examiner Clay Nichols were also unsuccessful Tuesday.

Mangum’s attorney, Chris Shella, said Mangum provided supporters with documents and information that he told her to keep confidential.

“Moreover, these individuals have disclosed these documents to the general public along with the potential defense theory of the case,” Shella said in his motion to be removed from the case.

Superior Court Judge Osmond Smith granted Shella’s request, to take effect once another lawyer is appointed.

In April, Mangum, with Harr’s help, filed two motions asking that the murder charges be dismissed and that any trial be held in another county due to media coverage that has followed her since the Duke lacrosse case.

In 2010, Mangum was charged with felony arson, child abuse, vandalism and resisting a law-enforcement officer during another dispute with her then boyfriend Milton Walker. She was convicted of child abuse, vandalism and resisting an officer.

Mangum also filed a motion asking that Smith be removed from the case due to his oversight in pre-trial hearings of the Duke lacrosse case.

Bridges: 919-564-9300

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