This article was originally published on March 11, 2016 by Justin Block on

Kerry Sutton was on the phone with the father of a Duke University lacrosse player when her Amtrak train collided with a dump truck.

It was March 2006, and Sutton, a defense attorney in Durham, North Carolina, was discussing whether she would be willing to defend Richard Zash’s son, Matt. He and several other white players were facing shocking allegations: that they had together raped a black woman named Crystal Mangum at a party hosted by the Duke lacrosse team at Matt Zash’s house on March 13, 2006.

The ensuing chaos of the crash put Sutton’s introduction to the family on hold. But for her, the event was a stirring omen.

“If there was ever a clue that that case was going to turn into a trainwreck, it couldn’t get any more clearer than that,” Sutton told The Huffington Post.

Sutton eventually decided to take up Zash’s defense, quickly finding herself at the center of one of the decade’s most closely covered trials. Ten years ago this month, Duke lacrosse players Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and Dave Evans were accused of raping Crystal Mangum, a North Carolina Central College student who was hired to strip for the team during a party.

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