Local News

Fired SBI analyst: 'I have done nothing wrong'

Posted April 8, 2014

— A blood analyst fired from the state crime lab three years ago didn't testify last week during a three-day hearing on his dismissal, but in a 183-page deposition he gave last fall to state attorneys, he maintained that he didn't deserve to lose his job.

Duane Deaver is appealing his January 2011 termination in the state's Office of Administrative Hearings. The deposition is one piece of evidence that Administrative Law Judge James Conner will consider before issuing his decision.

In his nearly 25-year career at the State Bureau of Investigation, Deaver went from being a rising star – he was the go-to guy for blood stain analysis – to being a lightning rod, the symbol of a system accused of withholding evidence.

A 2010 independent review of the crime lab concluded that SBI analysts had frequently misstated or falsely reported blood evidence in about 200 criminal cases during a 16-year period ending in 2003. Some of the most egregious violations found were linked to Deaver.

Deaver's lawyers argue that the SBI made him a scapegoat while the agency was under legislative and public scrutiny for the policies and procedures of the state crime lab, noting that SBI officials never included those allegations in their decision to fire him.

The agency cited the following findings to determine that he had violated agency policies:

  • The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission accused him of intentionally misleading the panel during a 2009 hearing on Greg Taylor, who was later determined to have been wrongly convicted in a Raleigh murder case.
  • At the end of a 2009 video demonstration of blood spatter analysis in a case, he said, "That's a wrap, baby."
  • While on leave in late 2010 while the SBI investigated questions of his performance raised in the outside review of the crime lab, he didn't notify his superiors or seek their approval before assisting a criminal profiler in filing a formal complaint against a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent who was providing a profile in a western North Carolina case.

Deaver said in the deposition that he was shocked when he was placed on leave in 2010, saying that he was only doing his job as he was trained to do. He went on at length about the glowing performance reviews he received but acknowledged he also received some minor verbal reprimands.

When Special Deputy Attorney General Charles Whitehead asked whether Deaver would be able to fulfill his responsibilities as an SBI agent, including testifying in court, if he were reinstated, Deaver remained steadfast.

"You don't think that, rightfully or wrongfully, your reputation in the community may keep you from doing that job?" Whitehead asked.

"No, sir," Deaver replied.

"Do you think that the SBI, based on what information has come out, could rely on you as an expert witness in a case?" Whitehead asked.

"I can't say what the SBI can do or couldn't do. I can't say what a judge would say or wouldn't say, but my conscience is clear, sir, and I can get on the stand and testify," Deaver said.

Whitehead continued, "My question is from the perspective of your employer. Could they employ someone who they couldn't put on the stand as an expert witness based on his reputation in the community?"

"Let me answer that this way. The SBI and the Department of Justice knows very well that I have done nothing wrong, and so they should be able to do that," Deaver said.

He insisted in the deposition that he never lied to the Innocence Inquiry Commission in the Taylor hearing, and an internal SBI report – administrators signed off on the report the same day that Deaver was fired – found the perjury allegation to be unsubstantiated.

He also disputed court rulings that he misled jurors in the 2003 murder trial of Mike Peterson.

Peterson, a novelist and one-time Durham mayoral candidate, was granted a new trial in late 2011 in the death of his wife a decade earlier. A Superior Court judge and the state Court of Appeals determined that Deaver's exaggeration of his expertise and his overstatement of the accuracy of his blood-spatter tests denied Peterson's right to a fair trial.

"I guess whether you agree with these findings or not that these are Court of Appeals opinions in the state of North Carolina, that this is the facts as the Court of Appeals has found them to be and the findings of law that they've determined based on those facts," Whitehead said.

"I have to tell you that I haven't read who testified to these things, and I can tell you for absolute certainty that most of that is wrong," Deaver said. "Whoever testified to it, I'll have to look at that when the time comes, and maybe I'll get a chance to refute those things. That's all I can tell you."

In addition to reinstatement to his former job, Deaver is seeking back pay and benefits he believes he is entitled to receive. He noted in the deposition that his family and friends are helping pay his legal fees and that he worked at a $9-an-hour job at an AgriSupply store after he was fired. He now works in the hospital supplies and services business in Texas.


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  • Pensive01 Apr 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I can't speak for everyone but I expect that a great many are basing their statements on things like the independent review that was done of the SBI crime lab back in 2010, in which it was found that in 200 cases the blood evidence had either been misstated or falsely reported with Deaver being linked to some of most egregious ones . Then there was his own notes in the Greg Taylor case, in which he only reported the tests results that indicated it was blood and kept quiet about the fact that the confirmatory tests found that it was not blood at all. Embellishing his experience at the Peterson trial, independent forensic experts saying Deaver's blood spatter analysis at the Peterson home had no scientific basis whatsoever. In short, quite a bit of factual evidence against Deaver, which is the opposite of what you are claiming to be the basis for not returning Deaver to his old job.

  • disgusted2010 Apr 9, 2014

    I can't help but wonder if those posting vile, libelous, hate filled posts about Mr. Deaver have any idea about what they speak other than what they have been told by a less than truthful, running for governor every day, not doing his job Attorney General and a liberal, anti-law enforcement media.

    I would hate to be charged with a crime have a jury made up of many of the posters here who are quick to convict based only on what they have been told by people with an obvious agenda.

  • A person Apr 9, 2014

    Ask his victims what he did wrong. I'm sure they will have no problem clarifying it for him. Most would love to do it in person, if he is available

  • campus Apr 9, 2014

    Deaver testified with terminology consistent with how he was trained. The reporting and findings in these cases were carried out as trained.

    The publics trust issue here is not in Deaver, but in the SBI as an organization.

    If the SBI has truly changed its reporting/findings policies, then we can trust him to carry out those new policies, as he has shown he has done in the past when there were policy/reporting changes.

    This good man is a victim of political maneuvering by the DA/AG and his family is paying the price for years of failed policies and biased reporting of the entire organization. To saddle the punishments solely on his shoulders is flat out wrong, and more people should be screaming for transparent investigations into the cover ups, backroom conversations, and media manipulation that has gone into this scapegoating charade.

  • Greg Boop Apr 9, 2014
    user avatar

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    It was a little harsh on all the innocent individuals who were locked up in Central Prison for many years due to his deliberately fabricated testimony. Now the state has to pay for new trials for over 200 individuals - most who will be found innocent and sue the state for compensation. A spell in Central Prison for Deaver is exactly what is called for.

  • Chris Newton Apr 9, 2014
    user avatar

    Been working for the state at a University for 30+ years and if you do something that goes against the generally accepted principles of the department and they will get rid of you, and that is just life, I have bucked them on a few things and buddy were the quick to turn up the heat on me.
    This poor guy is being railroaded by the SBI to cover up for all of their years and years of slackness and it's a shame. The whole outfit should be cleaned up but this guy should not be blamed for all of the problems at the SBI.

  • tllight Apr 9, 2014

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    hmm...thats a little harsh...wouldn't you say?

  • Michael Clay Apr 9, 2014
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    You're right, you don't need a reason to fire a person in NC but it you state a reason that reason has to be true. The best way to do it is to just let them go without a reason.

  • Matt Wood Apr 9, 2014
    user avatar

    "SBI officials never included those allegations in their decision to fire him."

    I still say they did this purposefully so that they could both scapegoat him and ensure he would be able to get his job back.

  • Lightfoot3 Apr 9, 2014

    "Did I miss this?" - Lee Co Rat

    Let's see, the "lying and being corrupt" part stem from many issues, but just to cherry pick some, claiming there was a positive blood test when his notes clearly showed a negative.

    The "expected of him part" comes from his claims he was just doing what he was trained to do.

    It's pretty obvious he was testifying to whatever he thought the DA wanted in order to get a conviction, rather than the truth or science.