Jury selection to start in Crystal Mangum case

DURHAM Crystal Mangum faces a number of charges, including first degree arson, in connection with a domestic dispute with her former boyfriend in February. She is accused of punching and scratching Milton Walker at the home the couple shared.

Police say she also threw his clothes in a tub and set them on fire while her three kids and police were in the house.

Jury selection was expected to start Wednesday, but Mangum's attorney wanted to suppress much of the evidence before the case moved on. However, the judge denied the motion.

Mangum was initially charged with attempted murder, but she is now charged with felony first degree arson, three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, injury to personal property and resisting a public officer.

Mangum's attorney argued Wednesday that police entered Mangum's home illegally --violating the first amendment-- after police were told to leave.

"We know there was no warrant," Mangum's attorney Mani Dexter said. "She was not engaged in any altercation. There was no shouting, there was no screaming. Ms. Mangum went inside her own home and the officer followed her in and when he went in there, he violated her right to be secure in her home."

However, Assistant District Attorney Mark McCullough argued the police had a reason to check the home.

"They didn't know whether when she went back in there, somebody was in there ready to kill her," he said. "They didn't know whether when she went back into her home, somebody was in there getting ready to beat the you-know-what out of her. The Supreme Court makes it very clear what is required and objectively reasonable basis for believing that a person within the home is in need of immediate aid."

Also in court Wednesday, both Mangum's attorney and McCullough wanted cameras out of the courtroom, but Mangum insisted she wanted the media to be there.

The judge later ruled the media could have cameras present.

Jury selection will start Thursday with each juror screened individually. The process could take several days.

The trial is expected to last about a week.

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