SBI, DOJ ask for more time on discredited ex-analyst's lawsuit
Posted January 11, 2012
Durham, N.C. — The State Bureau of Investigation and North Carolina Department of Justice are asking for more time to review recent testimony surrounding the competency of ex-SBI analyst Duane Deaver, who is suing for wrongful termination.
Last month, Durham novelist and one-time mayoral candidate Mike Peterson won a new murder trial in the 2001 death of his wife after his attorney successfully argued that Deaver provided misleading testimony about blood evidence during the original trial.
Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a motion Jan. 6 to continue a hearing in which Deaver is expected to present his case against the SBI and DOJ until those agencies can review testimony from the Peterson hearing. Sources told WRAL News that, before that hearing, Deaver was close to reaching a settlement with the state.
It now appears that the state is backing off any potential deal.
Deaver's contested case hearing was originally scheduled to begin Feb. 9. A judge has not ruled on the state's motion to delay that hearing for at least 60 days.
Deaver is seeking reinstatement, back pay and other relief from the SBI, which employed him as an analyst for more than 20 years. He was fired in January 2011 after an independent review of the SBI crime lab found that blood evidence had been misstated or falsely reported in over 200 criminal cases between 1987 and 2003.
Some of the most egregious cases cited in the review were linked to Deaver.
Deaver's attorney likened his termination to a "political witch hunt" after the SBI came under fire for its handling of the Greg Taylor case. Taylor was convicted of murder in 1993 but exonerated in 2010 as a result of an inquiry by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.
In that case, Deaver's blood analysis report stated that tests on Taylor's SUV revealed the presence of blood, even though confirmatory follow-up tests were negative for blood.
That report became a key component in the case to prove Taylor's innocence.
Taylor filed a lawsuit against Deaver and four other SBI agents in June.
Deaver maintained that he "didn't do anything wrong" in a March interview with WRAL News and alleged that the SBI was using him as a scapegoat to cover up problems with their policies and procedures.
The way he filed his blood analysis reports, he said, was in line with crime lab policy and he never tried to withhold or hide evidence.
One of Deaver's former supervisors at the SBI testified at the Peterson hearing in December that the discredited analyst had a strong bias toward the prosecution in criminal cases.