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Friday, October 13, 2006

Duke Case: No Law & No Order

In the Durham, North Carolina, criminal justice system, the people are being victimized by two separate yet equally culpable groups: the police who failed to properly investigate an alleged gang rape and the district attorney who is prosecuting three innocent men for personal, political, and financial gain. This is their hoax.

The Durham district attorney, Mike Nifong, and his cohorts have hijacked and taken the criminal justice system for a personal joy ride. The Durham police totally bungled the investigation of the alleged Duke gang rape. Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty were never interviewed by the police and offered a chance to give their side of the story. Their attorneys were never able to get Mike Nifong or his investigators to listen to their exculpatory evidence. They were struck by a bastard bolt of blind justice hurled at them by Mike Nifong.

Ed Bradley interviewing Reade Seligmann CBS News, 60 Minutes reported:

"Your whole life, you try to, you know, stay on the right path, and to do the right things," says Reade Seligmann. "And someone can come along and take it all away, just by going like that," he says, pointing his finger. "Just by pointing their finger. That's all it takes."

Seligmann says he has an alibi bolstered by photographic and electronic evidence. He says neither investigators from the prosecutor's office nor police have questioned him about the night of the alleged crime since he was picked out of a line-up by the accuser...
Indicting people without a giving them a chance to give their side of the story is un-American. For example, didn't special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, give Carl Rove numerous chances to come before a Washington grand jury to give testimony in the Plame affair. Rove was not indicted and the leaker was eventually revealed to be Richard Armitage. Leaking is not the same as raping, but it seems only fair that rape suspects should also be given some opportunity to either talk to police or the grand jury.

The Roberts interview highlighted another police foul-up. It revealed that Kim Roberts had never heard the official statement of the alleged victim, Crystal Gail Mangum, that was finally given on April 6th. The police never did any follow-up interviews or lineups with Roberts to help validate Ms. Mangum's final official story. The police were not even inspired to re-interviewed Ms. Roberts as a potential victim, even though Ms. Mangum's April 6th statement said they were holding on to each other during the attack.

Therefore, the single most important "neutral" witness in this case was ignored starting at 4:00 p.m. on March 22nd, that is when she finished writing her statement. Thus eight days after the March 14th incident the investigators basically said, goodbye to Ms. Roberts, see you in court next spring for the gang-rape trial. And, oh by the way, you are under arrest for violating your parole.

After the Bradley interview it is hard to understand why Nifong personally gave Ms. Roberts a break on her bail bond status and parole violation, because Roberts is turning out to be a great witness for the defense. Even though Roberts has been a wild card it sounds like she will be coming full circle and returning to her "crock" story.

Nifong apparently never talked to Roberts about the Duke case and you have to wonder if he even read her official statement given his history. Roberts must have felt some obligation to Nifong, because the day after Nifong downgraded her bond status to unsecured, and thus saved her $1,875, she started giving the interviews that deviated from the written police statement. What did Nifong expect from Roberts?

After 60 Minutes airs on Sunday millions of people will be left scratching their heads in disbelief, just like the thousands who have been following this case on the Internet. Many wondering why it took over three weeks to get an official statement about the incident from Ms. Mangum. This was over two weeks after Ms. Roberts made hers? And why weren't the statements from the two women ever reconciled with each other?

Can any blame be put on the grand jury that indicted the three men? Did they have any opportunity to see and compare the statements from the two women? The bet would be no, they never saw the statements and were just fed the testimony of the investigators. As the defense discovery hearings have shown, getting paperwork out of the Durham police department takes months not weeks. Nifong abused the grand jury just like he is abusing the whole criminal justice system.

Some other random acts of disorder by the Durham PD:

> Sgt. Shelton never asked for Kim Roberts' identification or took her license plate number when she asked him to get an intoxicated Ms. Mangum out of her car at the Kroger supermarket parking lot on the morning of March 14th. He had "cautioned her about picking up strangers." It would take police another six days to find Ms. Roberts. They had to track her down through the escort agencies.

> Investigators never talked to the next door neighbor Jason Bissey until he heard about the rape allegations in the news media days later and came forward.

> They failed to get statements from the three workers at the Durham Access medical facility that first had conduct with Ms. Mangum after the incident. Kirk Osborn, a defense attorney learned that one of the workers had taken written notes.

> They didn't get search warrants for the dorm rooms of Seligmann and Finnerty until after they were arrested.

> The police and Nifong didn't show any interest in checking out the alleged victim's cell phone and identifying what calls she had made and received before, during and after the alleged rape. The same applies to Ms. Roberts' cell phone.

> KC Johnson also says the police reportedly did not get the statement of Ms. Mangum's boyfriend, Matthew Murchison, before the indictments. Even though his DNA was found in her. He has more items of police negligence.

There was no law and complete disorder in Durham for this Duke rape investigation. And what is very disturbing is that the outrage about this injustice still seems very low key in Durham and the rest of North Carolina.

Parting Shots:

First, CBS News should fix their video clip system. It was impossible to see more than one minute of the Ed Bradley clip before it kept locking up. Next time put it on YouTube.

Second, Katie Couric seems over her head as an anchor person. Her comment last night to Bradley about Nifong - "He's so confident," just shows that she is not paying attention.

Duke Players: Lives Have Changed [CBSNews.com]
Lacrosse files show gaps in DA's case [NewsObserver.com]
Notes from Durham Access? [TJN]
Truth is Calling [TJN]
The Roberts Bombshells [KC Johnson]

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