Attorney: No delay in Crystal Mangum trial

The murder trial of Crystal Mangum will get underway next week despite the firing of a deputy medical examiner.
November 8, 2013 5:24:25 AM PST
The murder trial of Crystal Mangum will get underway next week despite the firing of a deputy medical examiner. Seventy potential jurors will come to the Durham County Courthouse for jury selection beginning Monday.

Mangum is charged with stabbing her boyfriend, Reginald Daye, with a kitchen knife during an argument in April 2011. Daye died 10 days later. Mangum claims it was all in self defense - and that a medical error was to blame for Daye's death.

It wasn't clear if the trial would start on time. Mangum's attorneys had been poised to request a delay following a shakeup at the state medical examiner's office.

"It's not that we want a delay," said defense attorney Daniel Meier at an emergency meeting Thursday. "We want to make sure we can fully explore any issues that might be there and that we can give Ms. Mangum a fair trial."

However, a motion to continue was not filed after a brief meeting between the defense, the judge and the district attorney.

At issue is the firing and investigation of Dr. Clay Nichols, a state medical examiner who was set to testify at Mangum's trial. He's under investigation for his handling of another unrelated case.

But, Mangum's supporters have publicly criticized the autopsy of her alleged victim. It's an issue that could come at trial along with the removal of the medical examiner.

"A motion may still be filed," said Meier. "I haven't ruled that out, but as of right now we're just not having a hearing."

The medical examiner contacted Durham County court officials Thursday to say that he could not testify, but Meier believes there's still a chance that could happen. Meanwhile, the Orange County district attorney said he will decide whether to file criminal against Nichols next week.

ABC11 contacted Nichols by phone, and he had no comment.

Mangum made national headlines in 2006 when she accused a group of Duke University lacrosse players of sexually assaulting her while she worked as a stripper at a party. The accusations were later found to be false, and Attorney General Roy Cooper dismissed all charges filed against the students.

On Wednesday, Mangum's legal team asked the judge to stop any mention of the Duke lacrosse case during her trial set for next week. Prosecutors promised not to bring it up, as long as Mangum does the same.

"We can't avoid it, so obviously it's our job to minimize the impact and to make sure people can still be fair," Meier said.

Attorneys will hand out a brief survey about the case to potential jurors during jury selection.

Among the motions that were heard Wednesday, Mangum requested individual jury selection because of "sensitive issues" like pre-trial publicity or domestic violence. She also wants the jury to be allowed to visit the crime scene.

Mangum has gone through several attorneys - who asked to be removed from the case - and even represented herself for a time.

The revolving door of defenders pushed back her trial date for years. She is charged with first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and larceny.

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