Crystal Mangum's lawyer withdraws counsel in Durham murder trial

jwise@newsobserver.comAugust 30, 2013 

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Crystal Gail Mangum

CHUCK LIDDY — cliddy@newsobserver.com

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway has approved defense attorney Scott Holmes’ request to withdraw from Crystal Mangum’s murder case.

Ridgeway made the decision Friday morning after Holmes said he had been unable to resolve a conflict of interest.

Mangum will have a new attorney appointed, but Ridgeway said her trial will go on as scheduled Nov. 12 “absent some constitutional bar.”

Prosecutors asked that attorney Woody Vann be reappointed since he had represented Mangum earlier and is familiar with the case. Ridgeway said that will be up to the public defenders office.

Mangum said she would object to Vann, but Ridgeway told her, “You have a right to counsel; you do not have a right to choose that counsel.”

Vann was Mangum’s first attorney, appointed in April 2011 after Mangum was charged with first-degree murder in the death of boyfriend Reginald Daye, who died 10 days after she stabbed him.

Mangum maintains she stabbed Daye in self defense and that he died from a medical mistake, not – as the medical examiner’s report states – the stab wound.

Vann withdrew from the case, saying he was unable to work with Mangum, who dismissed her second appointed attorney, Chris Shella. Vann was reappointed, but Mangum decided to represent herself until March of this year, when she asked for another court-appointed counsel.

Holmes volunteered to take the case, but on Tuesday of this week asked to withdraw “reluctantly.” Another lawyer at the N.C. Central University Civil Litigation Clinic, which Holmes directs, is representing a client “adverse” to Mangum in a case “having to do with a family matter.”

Ridgeway, who is scheduled to preside at Mangum’s trial, said he did not want to delay the case and told Holmes to find out whether the other client would waive the conflict of interest. On Friday morning, Holmes said the other client had refused.

Mangum objected to Holmes’ motion to withdraw, saying Holmes could have known about the other case when he took over her defense.

Mangum gained national notoriety after accusing three Duke University lacrosse players of rape in 2006. The charges were discredited and then-District Attorney Mike Nifong was disbarred for misconduct in handling the case.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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