More than one-third of the jury pool in Crystal Mangum's arson trial was excused this morning after saying they couldn't impartially hear the case.
Most of the others acknowledged they knew of Mangum as the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case but said they could still determine her guilt or innocence on the current charges.
"I'm going to take it at face value that you can do that," Superior Court Judge Abe Jones told them, "I can only trust your solemn oath on that."
The prosecutor and the defense lawyer are questioning 28 remaining jurors on their knowledge of the Duke case, in which Mangum accused three players of rape, and their ability to decide fairly on the new case. The arson and other charges stem from a domestic disturbance at Mangum's home in February.
Jones forbade jurors form reading, hearing or watching media coverage of Mangum's criminal proceedings. He also forbade attorneys, witnesses and jurors form talking about the case.
Prosecutor Mark McCullough decided not to ask Jones to sequester the jury for the trial. The judge excused one potential juror after he said he read an article about the case while waiting in the jury room Wednesday.
"None of us would want to be tried on what has been presented by someone else outside the trial," said Jones. "We're not going to have any press conferences on the steps of the courthouse."
Mangum faces charges of first-degree arson, injury to personal property, contributing to the delinquency of her children and resisting arrest. Police say she assaulted her live-in boyfriend Milton Walker, damaged his car and set his clothes on fire in a bathtub while Mangum’s three children and two officers were in the duplex apartment.