[Update, Thurs., 11.58am: One of my classes has an exam this afternoon, and so I will be off-line most of the afternoon; Matthew Milliken is back in court, and you can follow his twitter feed.]
[Update, Thurs., 10.17am: The Mangum case has gone to the jury. And here's a remarkable update from the twitter feed of H-S reporter Matthew Milliken, who covered the trial yesterday: "Jackie Wagstaff [a race-baiting former school board member, and outspoken Nifong supporter] overheard during recess: 'They are not understanding the nature of the black household.' Not sure if she's referring to [the racially-mixed] jury." Only in Durham could we get the insinuation that a mother burning clothes in a room near to where her children were sleeping is part of the "nature of the black household."]
[Update, Wed., 9.40am: The N&O reports: "In a videotaped interrogation shown to the jury Tuesday morning, Crystal Mangum confessed to smashing her boyfriend Milton Walker’s windshield with a vacuum cleaner, slashing his tires and setting his clothes on fire because she says he punched her in the face repeatedly." Mangum's attorney tried and failed to get the confession excluded from evidence, on grounds that at the time, the false accuser "was medicated after a spinal tap for headache treatment and hadn’t gotten much sleep the previous two nights."]
The first week of the Crystal Mangum trial (on charges of arson, injury to personal property, contributing to the delinquency of her three children, and resisting arrest) has concluded in Durham. The trial raises one obvious question: namely, what criteria the North Carolina children’s services department possibly could have used to keep Mangum’s three children in the same house with her, given that the record of the lacrosse case proved that she either was a monster, willing to lie and send innocent people to jail for decades, or a person so mentally disturbed that she believed her lies. It’s perfectly clear from the record of the trial that the children were not well-served by remaining in Mangum’s custody.
A few items:
(1) A courtroom observer passes on news that upon her arrest, Mangum (falsely) told officers that she was pregnant. She also, of course, lied to the officers about her identity.
(2) Mangum’s intriguing defense amounts to a version of entrapment: (a) that police officers, having received a desperate 911 call from one of Mangum’s children, should have trusted the assurances of this mentally imbalanced woman that everything was OK, and not entered the premises; and (b) that, having been arrested, Mangum had no obligation to inform police officers that she had set clothes on fire in the bathroom, even as her three children were in a nearby room.
(3) For those desiring a peek inside the pro-Mangum fantasy world, Steve Matherly is attending the trial. In a recent post, the People’s Alliance “activist” has taken a break from defending Mangum, and instead has launched into the character attacks on the lacrosse players that were so common from figures like Cathy Davidson and her Group of 88 comrades. Matherly made the mindboggling claim that the role of the lacrosse players in the lacrosse case is comparable to “the racist riots of the 1920s and 30s.”
Yes, because as any student of U.S. history knows, in the 1920s and 1930s, local prosecutors throughout the South were—like Mike Nifong in the lacrosse case—willing to violate myriad ethical procedures in order to imprison innocent white people, despite baseless charges from a local African-American woman.