Local News

Suit against fired SBI agent creates potential conflict for state

Posted September 16, 2011

Duane Deaver speaks publicly for the first time since he was fired by the State Bureau of Investigation during a March 4, 2011, interview with WRAL Investigates. An independent review of the way the SBI has handled blood evidence discredited some of Deaver's work and led to his termination.

— An employment dispute and a lawsuit involving a former State Bureau of Investigation agent may have created a conflict of interest for the state Attorney General's Office.

Attorney General Roy Cooper fired Duane Deaver in January, in part because the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission had filed a criminal contempt charge against him.

Last year, the innocence commission accused Deaver of intentionally misleading the panel during September 2009 testimony in a landmark case that ended with the exoneration of Greg Taylor, who had served almost 17 years for the murder of a prostitute in Raleigh.

A Superior Court judge dismissed the contempt charge on Wednesday after Deaver acknowledged that "the confusing nature of his testimony" could have misled the commission.

As Deaver fights to regain his job, the Attorney General's Office is representing him in Taylor's lawsuit against the SBI.

Deaver requested last month that the state pay for private attorneys to represent him, but the Attorney General's Office turned down the request, saying its lawyers would handle the case, which also names other SBI analysts.

Raleigh employment attorney Jack Nichols, who isn't involved in the case, called the situation peculiar but not necessarily improper.

"In the private sector, there's no question there would be a conflict, but because the Attorney General has the duty to represent all state agencies and all claims against the state, then his office has to decide (if there's a conflict)," Nichols said.

Court Gavel Scales of Justice State representing fired SBI agent in lawsuit

Deaver's private attorneys said they are perplexed by the situation.

"It's a curious situation. It's our hope and the hope of our client to continue representing him in the Greg Taylor case," attorneys Philip Isley and Philip Miller said in a statement.

Deaver's testimony during the innocence commission hearing about how test results on blood evidence were disclosed to prosecutors and defense attorneys prompted an independent review of the state crime lab. The review found that SBI analysts had frequently misstated or falsely reported blood evidence in scores of cases during a 16-year period ending in 2003.

Some egregious violations found during the review were linked to Deaver. In two of the cases, including one that ended in an execution, Deaver's final report on blood analyses said his tests "revealed the presence of blood" when his notes indicated negative results from follow-up tests. His notes indicate that he got a negative result because he didn't have enough sample left for the confirmatory test.


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  • kermit60 Sep 19, 2011

    This is the only guy to take a hit. I guess he was running the lab and the SBI all by himself.

  • spartacuscapua1 Sep 16, 2011

    Deaver is just the victim of the whole team, I do not think he meant to act wrong, but he followed just a normal procedure, we must remember the revision of over 200 cases, I say "we must have FBI reviewing the whole mess in deep" Deaver could be following a procedure, he is not the whole investigation. The Vandergrift's (husband and wife)are part of the procedures at the sbi. We need an investigation that will cut a lot of heads, not just Deaver's!

  • davisgw Sep 16, 2011

    Deaver was following SBI policy set by management at the time so it would make sense to me to follow the trail up the ladder. Maybe even into the attorney Generals office. The way Pendergraft was moved out of the firing line smell fishy and should be the target of an independent investigation.

  • itsmyownopinion Sep 16, 2011

    Story Quote: Deaver requested last month that the state pay for private attorneys to represent him...

    What? That takes some .....

  • Rebelyell55 Sep 16, 2011

    Wasted money on a losing cause...

  • spartacuscapua1 Sep 16, 2011

    I understand that we want to find the responsible for all this mess, so wher is Pendergraft(ex ncsbi director)? she ran away before the whole mess...ooo sorry(she step down), How about the Vandergrift's arent they part of the whole process at the ncsbi??? I believe that if Deaver is guilty, we need to go up too, and investigate anyone who was part of the investigations!!!

  • westernwake1 Sep 16, 2011

    The issue here is that Duane Deaver has no integrity and the state should not be legally defending his conduct. The state would be better off settling the pending cases from Taylor & others due to Deaver's obscene and intentionally misleading testimony. Where is the government integrity in North Carolina?

  • Tax Man Sep 16, 2011

    Why is this man not in prison for his crimes? The state should not defend him, they should prosecute him. He is a liar who caused irreparable harm to many victims by allowing them to be prosecuted for crimes they did not commit. He should not get his job back and he should go to prison for the rest of his life! Why wasn't he just honest in his reports and testimony? Why would he make this stuff up just to get a conviction even if there was no real evidence there? He needs to go to prison and never return to a free life!