In a June interview with Dan Abrams, Collin Finnerty’s parents made clear that their son had a strong alibi. Their attorney, Wade Smith, chose not to reveal the alibi for understandable legal reasons—a fear that Mike Nifong would try to manipulate the facts around the alibi. Indeed, this is exactly what Nifong tried to do regarding Reade Seligmann’s alibi.
With the case concluded, however, the Finnerty record on the night of the party is now public. What it reveals: Finnerty had an alibi of comparable strength to that of Reade Seligmann—and Seligmann’s alibi, it’s worth remembering, was unimpeachable in demonstrably proving his innocence.
The timestamped photos from the party showed the Roberts/Mangum dance running from until . That timeline was further corroborated by a statement from the neighbor, Jason Bissey. That Mangum (despite Nifong’s later claims) didn’t arrive at the party until around 11.40pm was conclusively proved by an 11.44pm receipt from her “driver,” Brian Taylor, who stopped off at a gas/convenience store nearby the lacrosse house just after he dropped Mangum off.
: As Kim Roberts and Crystal Mangum went to the back of the house, Finnerty and several other members of the team milled around for a brief period in the living room. At no point during this period was Collin ever alone; several members of the team recalled seeing him leave through the front door.
: In the first of a series of eight cell phone calls, Finnerty called another member of the team asking whether he wanted to get something to eat.
: As a reminder, Reade Seligmann has unimpeachable electronic evidence that he wasn’t at 610 N. Buchanan at this time, in the form of an ATM photo from Wachovia Bank; two minutes later, Mangum placed a call from her cellphone to another escort service.
: Finnerty received a call from a different member of the team; they talked about where and what to eat. By this point, Collin had gone to a house around the corner rented by two other senior lacrosse players—he had to pick up his Playstation, which he had left at the other house. Finnerty’s legal team had all his calls triangulated, and, therefore, could prove how his eight calls were made “on the move” and in different zones away from Buchanan house.
In short, as of , Finnerty had unimpeachable electronic evidence that he was not at 610 N. Buchanan.
: Finnerty placed a call to Domino’s to order a pizza.
: Mangum was photographed, smiling, outside the back door at 610 N. Buchanan.
: Finnerty and his friends decided to pick up food at Cosmic Cantina instead of pizza; he called Domino’s to cancel his order.
: Collin and three team members (a freshman, a sophomore, and a senior) left the other lacrosse house and headed across East Campus to a Mexican restaurant, Cosmic Cantina, to get something to eat. At , a credit card receipt showed the time at which one of the team members with Collin paid Cosmic Cantina. Finnerty then took a cab back to his dorm.
: Finnerty used his key card to gain entrance to his dorm, and then used his card to buy water in a vending machine.
: Finnerty made a 15-minute cell-phone call to his girlfriend.
The Finnerty record contained three other vital items:
1.) In May, Finnerty was administered a lie detector test, run by the instructor for the polygraph course at the North Carolina SBI. Collin passed the test unequivocally; afterwards, the tester told Wade Smith, “This boy is telling the truth and is innocent.”
2.) The Finnerty team fingerprinted—from top to bottom—the bathroom in which Mangum claimed she was attacked. No prints from Collin were in that bathroom. That result came as no surprise: Finnerty never set foot in that bathroom—either on March 13-14 or at any other occasion in his life.
3.) On November 15, Finnerty attorney Doug Kingsbery interviewed SANE nurse Tara Levicy—expected to be one of Nifong’s star witnesses if a trial ever occurred. Levicy left no doubt that she believed Mangum—but she wasn’t exactly the most discerning examiner, either. She told Kingsbery that she had never encountered a woman who lied about claiming to have been raped.
In their interview, Levicy told Kingsbery that on several occasions on the morning of March 14, she asked Mangum to slow down, so she could get all of Mangum’s details in her report. In the course of Kingsbery’s questioning of Levicy, it became clear that the SANE nurse had omitted a critical item from her report.
Did Mangum say when the alleged attack occurred?, Kingsbery queried. Yes, conceded Levicy. “About” 1.00am.
So at the time when Tara Levicy—whose zeal for conviction appears to have been almost equal to Nifong’s—had Mangum saying the attack occurred, Collin Finnerty was eating at a restaurant more than a mile away from the captains’ house.
For those who still fail to understand why this case has caused so much outrage, a recapitulation:
1.) Mike Nifong obtained indictments despite having—in the words of Attorney General Roy Cooper—“no credible evidence” that a crime even occurred.
2.) The first two people against whom Nifong obtained indictments—Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty—had a combination of witness testimony and unimpeachable electronic and forensic evidence to prove that they were innocent.
One final word, in the case of Finnerty: the indictment led to an extraordinary wave of character assassination against him in the media, beyond what Seligmann endured. Not only were these portrayals inaccurate, but they were almost 180 degrees incorrect—and described a person that no one who has spent 15 minutes with Collin would even recognize.
This record explains why it is—to use Cooper’s adjective—“tragic” when prosecutors (and their allies in the media and the academy) close their eyes to the evidence and use their enormous powers for harm rather than good.