Local News

Ex-SBI analyst's credibility again attacked

Posted December 13, 2011

Duane Deaver

— A lawyer for Durham novelist and one-time mayoral candidate Mike Peterson resumed his attack Tuesday on the competency of a key prosecution witness in Peterson's 2003 murder trial.

Peterson was convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 9, 2001, beating death of his wife. Kathleen Peterson was found dead in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in the couple's upscale Durham home.

He is seeking a new trial, arguing that former State Bureau of Investigation analyst Duane Deaver provided misleading testimony about blood evidence.

Defense attorney David Rudolf spent much of last week trying to discredit Deaver, whom the SBI fired in January. An agency official said Deaver was known to be biased in favor of prosecutors, and blood evidence experts said the tests he conducted in the Peterson case were flawed.

On Tuesday, another blood evidence expert questioned Deaver's expertise and his calculations.

Thomas Bevel, president of Bevel, Gardner & Associates, an Oklahoma-based forensic science consulting company, noted that Deaver hasn't taken any professional training courses in more than 20 years and doesn't belong to any professional organizations, which would provide some peer review of his work.

Deaver's work in the Peterson case was "not scientifically sound," Bevel testified, saying Deaver didn't document details of blood spatter found in the stairwell properly and used incorrect measurements.

At one point in the hearing, Bevel even banged his head against a wall in the courtroom to demonstrate how Kathleen Peterson could have been injured other than being killed.

Mike Peterson in prison Experts pile on against analyst in Peterson case

Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline challenged Bevel's conclusions, saying he hasn't reviewed some of the evidence from the trial.

"Could you give a conclusion as to whether (Deaver) was right or wrong?" Cline asked him.

Bevel never answered the question directly.

"There are numerous areas here where I disagree," he said.

Ronald Guerette, a Charlotte private investigator who reviewed all of Deaver's case files at the SBI, said Deaver rarely conducted forensic experiments on blood evidence and hadn't visited a crime scene in more than four years before going to the Peterson home.

Cline is expected to present witnesses Wednesday to back up her case that there was nothing wrong with Deaver's testimony and that Peterson shouldn't receive a new trial.


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  • spartacuscapua1 Dec 14, 2011

    stop pointing DEAVER!!!!!! Bring the exdirector and the other people behind, Deaver is not the only guilty!!!!!!!!

  • Wendellcatlover Dec 14, 2011

    What a shame that this murderer is going to get a "do-over" at NC taxpayer's expense because of 1 man's flawed conclusions in the original trial!!!

  • bowslinger70 Dec 13, 2011

    Let this man go--the law is corrupt, not the accused.

  • Inter Alios Dec 13, 2011

    clintoflannagan: how about newly discovered evidence that has come to light since the Peterson trial such as Deaver falsifying evidence, preparing fraudulent lab reports, lieing in court as to his credentials, training and experience. Maybe Peterson killed his wife, maybe not. But whichever, he is entitled to a fair trial. Peterson should be granted a new trial, and the state of NC should sue Deaver for the costs of both trials.

  • samr Dec 13, 2011

    Lets get this stuff over with and put him back on trial with proper evidence presented in a truthful manner. I think it will come back the same way. Sure it will cost the state money but when it comes time to be outraged about this, the blame should be placed on Deaver. Until the light was shed on him and his practices and methods, Peterson's appeals had all been denied. But for the actions of Deaver, we would not be here right now.

  • westernwake1 Dec 13, 2011

    In related news, one or more of the leading Defense Attorneys in Durham are demanding the Durham District Attorney Tracey Cline resign immediately. Otherwise a removal petition under state law will be launched.

    Cline should step down, says Durham defense lawyer


    Some quotes:
    '"She is not making sense," Holmes wrote of his impressions from the courtroom. "She is incoherent, unprepared, and embarrassing herself. She tried to argue cases she had not read."'

    '"And it is not just that she is attacking him," Holmes wrote. "The manner of her attack shows that she is over her head, out of her league, and not an intelligent attorney."'

  • didyouhearme Dec 13, 2011

    In a lifetime, think of all of the people you know. Now, think about reading the news every single day of your life. In all of that time, do you know anyone who fell down the steps and it killed them? Now, think...do you know anyone who had their skull bashed in from the fall? Leave him where he is. Two women he knew, died the same unreal way...like a novel you would read some place. That is the only place where injuries like this happen. A novel. Unless of course, there is human intervention when the event occurs...like pushing, fighting and hitting. Blood stains or not...the injuries speak volumes..and to have it happen by "Accident" to two women in your life? UMMM...leave him where he is.

  • Retired07 Dec 13, 2011

    Amazing how this is a retrial of Duane Deaver and not Michel Peterson. Anyone with common sense can look at the blood spatter and tell that was a horrific beating and not a druken fall. Justice will be served on Peterson yet.

  • clintoflannagan Dec 13, 2011

    Deaver's "credibility" wasn't attacked today. His methodology was attacked. There's a big difference, WRAL.

    BTW Rudolph tried this exact tactic in the original trial and the jury didn't buy it.

    This is just not the standard that applies to motions for appropriate relief like this one. If defendants are allowed to call experts years later to criticize the testimony of prosecution experts we'll have to re-open every single criminal case.