From correspondent Virginia Bridges
Crystal Mangum struggled and resisted arrest until police officers finally were able to get the handcuffs on her, Durham Police Cpl. John Tyler testified this morning.
“As soon as we got her handcuffed, it was almost like a light switch,” Tyler said during the second day of testimony in the case. “She didn’t say anything else, and she just laid there.”
Tyler said she remained silent after officers smelled smoke and he ran from room to room, searching for the source. He checked on Mangum’s three children who were huddled on a mattress in their bedroom. He checked Mangum’s bedroom.
And then he opened the bathroom door.
“The whole bathroom appeared that is was on fire,” he said. “And then of course my next concern was the children.”
Not once did Mangum say “check the bathroom, please get my kids out,” Tyler testified.
“Not once did I hear anything from anybody,” he said.
At that point, Defense Attorney Mani Dexter objected to Tyler’s statement, pointing out that the Mangum had the right to remain silent.
Prosecutor Mark McCullough, however, argued that Mangum had a duty to speak up to protect her three children, Tyler and her then boyfriend Milton Walker, who was sitting in the apartment.
“Under the circumstances, her kids were in the room, three feet from the fire. Who sits there and does that?” McCullough argued after the jury was sent into another room. “I think she has a duty to not be silent. She has a duty if not to them, if not to Mr. Walker, for her own dad-gum children who were three feet from the fire. Who is responsible for them?”
Dexter argued that since Mangum was handcuffed and clearly under arrest, her silence shouldn’t be used against her.
“The state is clearly trying to use that against her,” she said.
Superior Court Judge Abe Jones ultimately sided with Dexter and the court proceeding continued without further discussion on what Mangum didn’t say or do.
Mangum, the woman who accused three players of rape in the Duke lacrosse case, faces multiple felony charges related to the Feb. 17 domestic violence call. The charges include arson, injury to personal property, resisting arrest and contributing to the delinquency, abuse or neglect of her children. Officers successfully removed everyone from the building, and no one was hurt during the fire, Tyler testified.
Dexter started cross examining Tyler just before the judge dismissed the jury for lunch.