Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Little Barbara Streisland Music Please...

"Memories...may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember...
We simply choose to forget."

In the early months of this case, readers of the N&O coverage of the Nifong-Mangum Hoax were beseeching the N&O to follow up on some of their questions about the case. Indeed, they were begging, all these months ago, for the kind of investigative reporting Joe Neff did indeed supply over time.

In the context of Finnerty attorney Michael Cornacchio's call for a new expanded investigation, it's revealing now, to review some of the postings on the N&O Editors blog last July. Look at the ideas for articles and wonder...why were so few of them ever pursued then? Will they be pursued now, or brushed aside? Many of these questions remain unanswered to this day. Editor Sill would do well to review her own blog in assessing the "quality" of N&O coverage of this case...or lack thereof. It can also provide direction for future reporting.

The excerpts below are from a thread in July, 2006 that eventually ran to 209 comments. They are not all in order of posting. The full thread can be read here: Editors' Blog.
Comment from: joan foster [Visitor]
07/05/06 at 17:01
I suggest that those of us who post here make a list of questions about this case that we would like to see the N&O explore. It will stand as a record of sorts and at no time in the future can the N&O plead ignorance to the existence of or their avoidance of these questions.

This is a paper that assigned, allegedly, TWELVE reporters to uncover every misbehavior and misdemeanor of a group of college students for a front page story. The Editor tells us they uncovered a "pack mentality." Some of us fear we see a pack mentality among the officials, police, press and prosecutor in Durham. We compare the original hard-driving reporting when the "targets" were out-of-town college boys the passive nature of the reporting now. Why? Because it's far easy to target college boys than local cronies in positions of power?

Let's begin compiling our questions and if necessary we will E-mail them to Melanie Sill.

In the future it will be on record that this newspaper was aware of these questions. It will be evident to all that the N&O chose to ignore them.

07/05/06 at 23:24
The most interesting developments in the case appear to be the relationship of current Durham PD efforts related to the prostitution rings in Durham for which the alleged victim worked. And the failure of Durham PD and Nifong's office to solve a increasing number of shootings, while they are devoting infinite resources to the Lacrosse case.

To that end:

Why was there a mass arrest of Durham prostitutes last week? Who ordered it and why?

How many call girl/prostitute rings operate in Durham and Raleigh? Are they all related to each other?

Do the prostitution rings also run strip clubs or drug operations?

Are the large number of multiple shootings of black men in Durham (including one today) related to these drug and prostitution rings?

How many prostitutes did Jarriel Johnson and Brian Taylor drive for? Do they run a call girl ring or just work for one?

Which current or former Durham police officers provide protection for the call girl rings and strip clubs in Durham? How much do they get paid for this work?

Which current or former Duke city officials frequent these strip clubs and call girl rings?

Did these city official clients attempt to intervene in the Duke case to block access to the alleged victim’s cell phone and computer?

What hotel/motels in the area support these call girl rings? Do they offer them discounted room rates?

Is the advertising staff of the Durham Indy newspaper aware of the connections between the various call girl rings that they take ads for?

Is NCCU a fertile recruiting ground for the call girl rings? (several of the recent arrestees appear to be students)

Is Duke a recruiting ground?

These would make for some very revealing stories and will likely get to the heart of much of the inexplicable DPD and city official behavior in this case.

Comment from: TwistedSlightly [Visitor]
07/06/06 at 18:20
Here are a a few more questions that have never been asked:

-Whose names are on the cell phone of the accuser? Could it be names of political, law enforcement or judicial personnel?

-The strong pursuit of such a weak case indicates something else is being covered up. Could this reach into City, County and even State of North Carolina governments?

-Why is it so important to try a case against the Duke students, while overlooking other crimes within the community such as murder, drugs, and prostitution?


Comment from: visitor [Visitor]
07/06/06 at 20:50

NIFONG: Well, Your Honor we have our own, dare I use the term, expert, at the police department who is reviewing the cell phones that were seized, computer disks and things of that nature. And he has not processed this yet, to my knowledge.

STEPHENS: Well, it's my understanding that this may be a phone that actually was a third party's phone or could -- or was it -- do you know whether or not it was her cell phone or ...

NIFONG: I do not know right off hand.

STEPHENS: So we may have third, or fourth parties who have some privacy interest in this themselves.

NIFONG: Conceivably.


Has Nifong's "expert" processed the cell phone data and turned it over to the defense? Does he know yet?

Who are the third and fourth parties? Does he know yet?

Has Gottlieb file his report yet, or is this "more stuff" that may come up?

"Everything I have received I have turned over," Nifong said. "I expect to have more stuff next time, and expect this is the type of case where new stuff is coming up until the time it is tried."

07/06/06 at 12:13
Questions for the investigative team at the N&O:

1. Did the AV take a lie detector test? If so, when? pass or fail? If not, refused or not asked?

2. When did the AV arrive at UNC hospital? How much time passed from when she left Duke until she arrived there? What was the purpose of the second visit? Do the findings contradict the Duke medical reports? If so, how? Who took her to UNC?

3. More info on Linwood Wilson: Why did he leave DPD after only 7 years on the job? When he testified on behalf of the murderer who claimed self defense in the killing of a man who he feared who inflict a homosexual attack on him, was there any fallout? Does he believe that killing suspected homosexuals is really justified or was he participating in the defense for some other reason? Why did he retire as a PI shortly after this case?

4. Whose decision was it for DPD to try to interrogate players without counsel when they raid the Duke dorms?

5. Why did Nifong wait until the day after the primary election before submitting the boyfriend and 2 drivers for DNA testing?

6. Where outside the house do the players claim to have found the AV's cell phone and other property? Where they found in a place that Officer Shelton would have seen them when he responded to the first 911 call? Where they in a place where they could have been tossed from a car? Did the items have Kim's fingerprints on them? Did they have any of the indicted players fingerprints? Any unindicted players?

8. Why were the non-LAX party attendees not tested?

9. What time did Brian Taylor drop off the AV?

10. Where is part 2 of the interview with the AV? The paper claims to have printed only the claims that coincided with the police reports. Isn't it about time to print her claims that contradict the police reports?

11. What did the NCCU student reporter uncover but fail to print?

12. When does the Jakki/DL Hughley/Ron Jeremy film debut?

13. Where is the other shoe?

14. When was the AV's computer seized by DPD? Who told the defense that this was done? Why was it taken?

15. When is the last time Nifong tried a felony case (not including traffic court)? How many years has it been since he tried a rape case? In total, how many rape cases has he tried?

16. Have charges been reinstated in the child rape case that was accidentally drop by the DA's office?

17. What field are Rachel Winn and Hope Copeland experts in?

18. Is there a precedent for a brutal, 30 minute, condom less, 3 orifice, gang rape in which no DNA evidence was left on or in the victim's person?

19. Is there a precedent for Nifong's claim that it is ok to violate ethics rules prior to indictment despite the fact that the ethics rules appear to state otherwise? How do legal experts feel about his claim?

20. What is the status of the charges against the cabbie?

21. How about a dimensions on the size of the bathroom?
22. WHY is it taking Gottlieb THREE months to write up his notes? What is he waiting for? Why is he allowed to wait?

07/06/06 at 08:57
What are the odds, with all of the outstanding warrants in Durham, AV's associates are picked up? Sounds like a squeeze to me.

Cab Driver
AV's Boyfriend - Matt Murchison --- soon after a
Noel Rochelle Murchison is arrested.
AV's Ex-husband - In jail for everything including Worthless checks (Linwood Wilson alert*)
AV's Girlfriend - arrested for worthless check charges among other things.

Kim Roberts given a sweetheart bond deal.
There is a Kevin Pittman in the jail-he may or may not be related to Kim.

And there may be more. The documentation is easy.

BTW someone HAS seen EVERYTHING the defense received. That was Dan Abrams who was allowed access to the all discovery items and has said what is in there further exonerations the LAX players.

Ms. Sill what is more important, being on the side of truth or the corruption. I suggest that being on the side of truth demands an equally critical assessment of the "victim" and the lax players. No one seems to want to do a critical assessment of the AV, instead saying "women rarely lie about rape."

Durham will forever be remembered as the most corrupt city in America.

Here is one prophetic post:
Comment from: A response to Susan Nifong [Visitor]
06/25/06 at 14:11
What Nifong’s obscenity-filled tirade following the Evans news conference illustrates about his character

In the US system, the long term prosecutor/DA gradually assumes the mantle of prosecutor, judge and jury. Since most cases are now decided by plea bargain, DAs essentially bypass the checks and balances of the judicial system and do whatever they want. In the face of this absolute power, a few good DAs manage to maintain a sense of fairness and balance but nearly all long-term DAs are bent by the process and become increasingly unethical, cutting corners, making stuff up and playing favorites (the numbers of defense lawyers among Nifong’s inner circle are a pathognomic sign of an imperial long-term DA).

When the media started paying attention in the Duke case to Nifong (for the first time for him in over a decade), he was simply engaging in his usual behavior: making facts up, manipulating the police investigation and abusing his subpoena power. And happy to show it to the world. As shown in the case, it becomes the practice of an imperial DA to stop reading the evidence before indictment and just lazily relying on his coercive behavior to settle a case.

In a way, typical (albeit unethical) long-term DA behavior on Nifong’s part. Revealed for the first time to the public, in Nifong’s case, because the media was recording his every word.

In a corrupt system like Durham’s, the police readily participate in an imperial DA’s system of coercion; intimidating witnesses, suppressing and manufacturing evidence to obtain the needed pressure for a plea bargain (I strongly suspect the reason lead investigator Mark Gottlieb hasn’t yet produced his report is that early on he was engaging in his routine practice of providing misleading and fantastical reports to the DA and the Grand Jury and now is trying to figure out how to “adjust” them).

But after the Chesire/Evans news conference with the 3rd indictment (which is the _actual_ time Nifong stopped talking to the press), Nifong went into a complete panic.

He realized (1) That no rape had taken place (because he finally read his case file carefully for the first time) (2) That no plea bargain was going to be possible.

He was at-sea. That is the character-building moment for any person- caught in a lie with huge stakes.

The honest and decent person in that circumstance finds a way to make things right; no matter how painful to them it is. The cad blusters on.

Nifong spewed obscenities and then fell into a sullen, smirking silence; all the while dragging his city’s judicial system down with him.
Comment from: joan foster [Visitor]
07/07/06 at 17:44
Melanie, we are not asking you to report on what you know...we are asking for investigative journalism TO FIND OUT. You assigned 12 reporters to the "swagger" story TO FIND OUT if there was (as you called it) a pack mentality. Okay, fine. This wasn't something you were chatting about around the water sent 12 reporters to ferret it out.

Now, there are real questions of a "pack mentality" extending from Nifong through the police city hall. To do nothing now, in the face of your zeal a statement in and of itself. One some civil attorney may later ask you to expound upon.


Why in almost 4 months, has Sgt Gottlieb not produced written notes from April 4 interview. Why would that be?> What is he waiting for? These are supposedly a factual account, no need to wait for his creative muse to inspire him. Why no notes?

Have both the accuser's ex husband and boyfriend been arrested? Why now? Old warrants like the taxi driver?

Read the MANY MANY questions above, Melanie. They are the tip of the iceberg....and the S.S. Nifong is steaming full speed ahead. The N&O , proactive in the glaringly reactive now. The questions and the questioning are NOT going away. Investigative reporting means asking the tough questions over and over. Report a non answer.

WHERE ARE THE NOTES? Justice demand an accounting now. It's a record of an interview, right? No writers block, correct?

Some blogs are speculating that there is pressure preventing the newspaper from tackling this story. You could dispell that with some REAL journalism. Kevin Finnerty has has hired a former U.S. attorney specialising in goverment corruption...Michael Cornacchia. Mr. Nifong has invited this scrutiny to Durham. It's only just begun. The end of this story...could be the beginning of another. I believe the N&O will either help write it, or like Dan Rather, be written about.

Comment from: William [Visitor]
07/06/06 at 08:13
Questions that I'd like answered regarding the Duke / Nifong case. I think your readers would love to know the following:

1) Real interview of Brian Taylor. Did he have sex with the AV? He just played Nintendo while she showered and posed different lingerie outfits? Has he used drugs in the past?

2) Jarriel Johnson. What is this guys story? Who was paying him? Why was he waiting outside of Hotel Rooms for hours waiting for the AV. Has he ever seen the AV do drugs? Why was he driving to Raleigh hotel rooms? Why did the AV work Raleigh - some 20 miles away?

3) Matt Murchison. What he thinks of the AV? Does he believe it happened? What did she tell him right after she was released? How does he make a living? What is his background with regards to drugs? Is he the one that drove her to UNC Chapel Hill? Did he give police a statement or is that why he is reportedly in Jail.

4) Interview Bunny Hole entertainment.
Or all Escort agencies. How did they get their money? Do they feel they are culpable for sending two Ex-cons out to a party with 18-21 years olds in college? Did they know of Kim's record? Or did she lie on her application? Did they know of the AVs record? How much had both dancers earned YTD? W2s for last year, etc.

5) Using the previous 4 interviews, did the AV have $2000.00 on her as she first reported?

6) Tax records for the AV and Kim. How much have they been earning over the years.

7) Legal or Civil Culpability of Nifong. Jeopardy issue in regard to Nifongs Ethics and the NC bar. Demonstrations of Strangulation on TV as described by the AV. However, the felonious strangulation charge has been dropped even though it was used as cause for search warrants and court orders early on. Nifong saying on National TV that the AV was robbed by the players and the money was found inside the residence consistent with the AVs story. However, the common law robbery charge went away? How can that be, the money was found inside and the AV says they stole it - that was Nifongs story on National TV for some time.

8) Using investigative techniques and sources determine and report IF the Grand Jury was told of this Strangulation and if they were told the AVs money was found inside the residence consistent with her story.
I would not be surprised to find out that the Grand Jury was told the womans money was found inside consistent with her story, because, at that time, Nifong was telling that story on National TV. Was this told to the Grand Jury to imply guilt on the part of the players?

9) Cousin Jackee says the AV has signed on with a lawyer. Info on that lawyer. How unusual is it that Kim (a witness) has a civil lawyer (Mark Simeon) and now the alleged Victim has a lawyer.

10) Report extensively on Nifongs responsibilities in regard to examining exculpatory information. Was it legal and ethical for him to refuse to view the alibi evidence and other information that the Defense lawyers attempted to share with him?

11) Is there another case in North Carolina history where men are facing 1st degree rape charges when the biological evidence in the woman points directly to another man - that is not charged. Some reporting on cases fitting this description in modern times would be very enlightening.

Comment from: ImpeachNifong [Visitor]
07/06/06 at 10:39
Another line of questioning:

Is Precious under police protection? How much is it costing Durham tax payers per day? How much will it end up costing if the trial is delayed until Spring 2007? How unusual is it for a city/county to place an accuser under protection?

Compare the investigation of this case with the investigation of the quadruple homicide after the NCCU homecoming (Lennis Harris, victim)--where is the DPD in getting DNA tests?

Comment from: JLS [Visitor]
07/07/06 at 18:03
"Many of your questions are good ones to pose to key players in the case..." (Editor Sill comment on blog)

Excuse me, I thought that was the role of a newspaper. Do you except each citizen of the triangle area to call or e-mail NIfong with the questions for him? Do you expect each citizen of the triangle area to find a way to contact the private citizens in this case and ask them these questions?

Are you under the misimpression that public officials talk to members of the press because you are so smart and such superior beings to the rest of us poor slobs? I think public officials talk to the press so that all of the public need not try to ask them such questions individually.

Why would you cut off discussion when there are so many outstanding questions on this topic? Would you be ashamed of your paper if it did award winning reporting on a story that showed white male out of state Duke lacrosse team members were being victimized by a local DA and a lying black prosetitute? As others have said to you, there are awards to be won by journalists on this story? Why isn't the News & Oberserver interesting in trying to bring this story to the public and possibly win these awards?

Comment from: visitor [Visitor]
07/06/06 at 15:17
Is the Chalmers back from leave yet? Odd he would turn over his duties to the city manager during such an important investigation.

Speaking of the city manager, didn't Baker state the AV didn't change her story? Linwood Wilson, DPD worthless check investigator, commented on this as well. Funny how Chalmer's daughter's checks slipped passed him. Oh yeah, her first name was spelled slightly different.

Is everyone in Durham government on this case but the police chief?

Did Chalmers' leave begin prior to the controversial LAX lineup which "ran contrary in two fundamental ways to the police department's General Order 4077 on Eyewitness Identification issued, (by Chalmers), in February?"

Who is running the show?

06/24/06 at 15:06
Nifong duped us all. He was the DA, who thought he would lie?

How different the reaction would have been If we were told that both the alleged victim & Kim admitted to working for escorts services to the responding officer that night and that one of them had made the 911 call. This was told to Officer Shelton, responding Officer to 610 & Krogers by Kim. Yet Nifong told us he didn't know who made the call. It is in the Officer Report. Maybe that is why Cheshire keeps sarcastically saying read the file.

By the way for those pundits who keep explaining away the alleged victims wildly changing story to Officer Sutton, who was the responding officer to Duke Hospital and took the statement, is a female officer! Gwendolyn Sutton a trained female officer! Also go study PTSD and you will find that rape victims don’t change the number of attackers wildly. That is not what the condition is about!

Why weren’t we told the truth that these massive injuries from being choked, kicked, and brutally raped by 5, no 3 men for 30 minutes didn’t show up in the Sane Exam or in the Doctor’s report or more importantly in 2 sets of DNA tests?

Maybe if we were told no Tox was done from the start? Why was Nifong hinting there was some drug?

Maybe if we were told about Kim statement given a week later we wouldn’t have a community so incited? What a crock!

How could have DA Nifong indicted Evans after DNA matching someone else was found in the Alleged Victim and she admitted to her activities prior to the party?

But then again maybe DA Nifong wouldn’t have narrowly won his election?

I feel so sorry for the Duke Players as they were railroaded. I also feel sorry for the AA Community because they incited by Nifong. I can understand their reactions.

You are sitting on a Huge Story! Now go out & find out the truth & win your Pulitzer. It’s the best chance you will ever get!


Comment from: We all should be worried [Visitor]
06/23/06 at 06:36

The corruption in the Durham PD and the DA's office is apparently so flagrant that we all should be worried about the possibility of overt evidence tampering and perjury as the Duke case proceeds.

You don't get to a situation overnight where the daughter of the chief of police feels entitled to ignore arrest warrants for years.

That types of behavior can only follow on many year of abuse of power by the leadership of the department.

Or to a point where an employee of the DA turns into a heckler at a press conference, and then lies to the NYTimes, contradicting public available documents.

As a start, it would be useful to profile Mr Linwood Wilson, who despite a mendacious career as a PI, was hired late last year by Nifong's office as an investigator. And has been leaking lies and misinformation on the Duke case for months now.

Mr Wilson is a great poster child for the corruption, and mediocrity of the current Durham city government.

A story that has gone completed unreported by the N&O until you changed your stripes this week.

06/28/06 at 08:17
Many posters here are curious about the stories the N&O WON'T write. Reading comments above, there are questions about the police investigation, the city manager's statements, the vigilante poster, witness intimidation, the identification process, Nifong's public statements, escort services, pay-off claims.

Taken one by one, perhaps, they seem like minutiae and Melanie may separately dismiss them as such. . Taken as a whole, they portray a picture of Durham that needs to be exposed or dispelled. That the N&O , under Melanie's direction, is unwillingly or unable to do so, becomes another question in the story. The culture of the team was important to the story, the culture of the town is apparently not.

We have asked for a story comparing this case to others in North Carolina, comparing Nifong's decisions to other D.A.'s, .....comparing the timing and tone of the vigilante poster with what the Crimestoppers have done in the past, ....comparing the treatment of the taxi driver with the treatment of the Chief's daughter ...comparing the multiple no-wrong-answer line-ups with others. in North Carolina. .....No reply.

We know Nifong was in a political campaign when he ordered the gang-testing of the team for DNA. Melanie tells us THAT TESTING ALONE propelled this story. We know now that the accuser had several different stories... and Kim said it was a crock ....and everyone in the house said no rape. What evidence did Nifong order that testing on? This is taxpayer money. What do we know of the evidence available to him when he ordered those tests? Put that in context with what others in North Carolina have done in similar situations. What amount of evidence is the usual standard before ordering expensive testing like that?

We read Judge Stephens and the next Judge to oversee this case are running for election this year as well. True or false?

Melanie has moved on but our questions have not. Let's continue to observe hometown coverage of this story : the zeal in the coverage of the players early on...almost zip on the local police and power players now. Melanie puts all our questions together and sees no question to ask of anyone, anyplace about this investigation and prosecutorial process. Melanie has moved on. Duly noted.
Joan Foster


Anonymous said...

Terrific post. Please send this to KC Johnson.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I agree - this IS terrific.

I echo the questions asked - specifically, what IS the level of prostitution in Durham? It has to be huge. How else to explain why judges refused to go after a prostitute's phone records, why cops took 4 times as long to deliver a prostitute from the Kroger parking lot to the drunk tank, why Nifong refused to find the identities of the men a prostitute had sex with, etc.