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Blood expert testifies at Taylor hearing

Posted February 10, 2010
Updated February 15, 2010

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— A state agent should not have omitted results of follow-up blood tests from his lab report, and other officials were wrong when they testified that blood was found on the Gregory Taylor's truck, a blood expert testified Wednesday at a hearing to determine if Taylor should be set free.

Taylor, 47, is getting a second chance at freedom this week as a three-judge panel hears new evidence in the murder of 26-year-old Jaquetta Thomas, whom police found dead at the end of a cul de sac on South Blount Street in Raleigh the morning of Sept. 26, 1991.

Taylor's truck was found nearby, and within 12 hours of finding the body, he was arrested and charged in the case. He was found guilty in April 1993, but has maintained his innocence.

Tom Bevel, a blood spatter expert and professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, said Wednesday that no human blood was found on Taylor's truck, disputing trial court testimony that says otherwise.

Bevel said lab notes from Duane Deaver, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, indicated important tests on two items from Taylor's truck showed no presence of blood.

But the agent's formal lab report did not include that information – only that initial tests did show the presence of blood.

Bevel said the follow-up tests should have been included because of the potential for false-positives in the initial tests.

Agents with the City-County Bureau of Investigation, who testified at trial that tests showed the presence of blood, should have clarified that they based their statements on the presumptive tests.

Both the agents and Deaver were wrong, Bevel said.

"You report what the results are, positive or negative," he said of Deaver.

Of the CCBI agents' trial testimony, he said: "If you get a negative, you cannot say you have blood."

If Taylor killed Thomas, then blood should have been found on his vehicle or clothing, he said.

"Blood is uncontrollable," Bevel said.

Taylor's case is the second to go before a panel of Superior Court judges after the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission unanimously decided that there was enough evidence to warrant a full review in an evidentiary hearing.

The Innocence Commission, established in 2007 by the General Assembly, investigates and evaluates claims of innocence and evidence not considered at trial. Unlike a criminal trial, the burden of proof rests solely on Taylor's attorneys.

Also testifying Wednesday was Gregg McCrary, a crime scene analyst and former FBI agent, who said that based on the information he has seen, there were no effort on investigators' part to try to learn about Thomas and that investigators appeared to have "tunnel vision," looking only at Taylor and Beck.

"That was the thrust of the investigation," he said, suggesting investigators might have looked at evidence to support their theory and ruling out any other.

Earlier Wednesday, Taylor took the stand again for day two of cross-examination by Wake County Assistant District Attorney Tom Ford, who prosecuted Taylor at trial.

Ford questioned differences between Taylor's current testimony and his previous statements to police and attorneys.

Discrepancies included how much money Taylor had with him and what sort of tattoo a woman had. Taylor admitted his memory differed, but insisted he didn't kill Thomas.

Ford has argued that Taylor and a friend, Johnny Beck, picked up Thomas that night and then killed her when she refused to perform a sex act.

On Wednesday, Ford said Thomas was in the back seat of Taylor's white Nissan Pathfinder that night and they went to the cul de sac because they didn't want to take her home.

"It was all about the drugs," Taylor said, adding that he wanted to stay in the area because he knew the drugs were easier to get to buy them.

"So it wasn't because you had Jacquetta Thomas in the back seat and you knew you were going to have to leave her in the neighborhood where you picked her up?" Ford asked.

"That woman or nobody else was in my back seat, sir," Taylor said.

He testified Tuesday that he spent a night drinking and doing drugs as he Beck, drove from one location to another to buy crack cocaine. When his truck got stuck in the mud, he abandoned it and continued to do drugs

He admitted to seeing a body lying on the road but didn't report it to police because he was high.

Taylor also said Tuesday that he turned down repeated offers from police to blame Thomas' death on Beck, even when police told him that Beck was blaming the murder on him.

Ford was among those who made such an offer, including after Taylor was behind bars, when Ford said he and a judge would make his case to the governor if Taylor would cooperate.

Still, Taylor said no.

When Cheshire asked him why Tuesday, he replied: "It was still the same as it has been all along. There was no way I could testify against Johnny Beck because we didn't have anything to do with this crime."

50 Comments

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  • Bartmeister Feb 11, 2010

    After reviewing the testimony and videos, The defense appears to be on track with the prosecution being defensive with their material. This guy appears to be a former "crackhead", but not a murderer. My confidence in the legal system diminishes as the testimony continues.

    I used to think that the prison system is filled with innocent victims (self proclaimed), but this is turning my view in the other direction. No amount of money can be paid to repay the amount of years an innocent man spends behind bars because of "shoddy" investigations.

  • passport423 Feb 11, 2010

    Thanks Suasponte and Deman for answering my question. Knowing that the charges were dismissed against Beck for lack of evidence really helps me in forming an opinion.

  • R_U_breakdance fighting Feb 11, 2010

    Prosecution lied and hid the evidence of a more detailed test showing a negative result.

    Free the guy and pay him the money. I'm sure he'll sue the state now and he'll win. Thanks to the TUNNEL VISION!!! They've cost us more money!

  • WHEEL Feb 11, 2010

    "SBI" Don't bother us with the facts, our mind is made up. Sort of reminds you of the way thay handle police shootings.

  • hazeyc Feb 11, 2010

    "I think it still came down to the witness that put him with the victim. She pointed right at him in court and said that's the man that was with the dead girl in my kitchen."

    This woman changed her story many times before she testified. Including not knowing the victim and the color of the car she was in. She was given a deal for her testimony too. These type of people will lie in a second to save their own you know what. But, we see someone like Greg who wouldn't do that to someone else even though it meant his life. To me that speaks volumes.

    Also from testimony Greg turned over his clothes which had not been washed to police. They did not find blood on it. This was such a violent crime that he would have had to have blood on it if he committed this crime.

  • Raleigh Feb 11, 2010

    Hey, I remember the Michael Peterson case. Duane Deaver, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, was the blood splatter expert who testified at the trial.

  • progrills Feb 11, 2010

    Mr. Ford....Mr. Ford.....you and boss buddy Mr. Willoughby are doing nothing but covering your you know whats. Yea raise your voice as a tatic to intimidate the falsely accused and witnesses. We all see what you are attempting to do. You are so typical. You and your boss should resign. Step down! Both of you make me sick! Both of you are disguisting!

  • Deman Feb 11, 2010

    "I think it still came down to the witness that put him with the victim. She pointed right at him in court and said that's the man that was with the dead girl in my kitchen. I beleive that is why the jury convicted him. If they can't get her to come forward and say she lied back then who should be able to override a jury after 17 years."

    You're missing the point. Without the 'blood' being on the truck, the case would have been dismissed by the judge. There was no other evidence that linked the defendent to the victim. Don't you find it interesting that the other defendent had his case dismissed due to lack of evidence even though the same witness testified that she saw both men? If her testimony was good enough to confict one, why not the other?

  • Bartmeister Feb 11, 2010

    If this procedure continues this track, it seems he will go free. WHATTA SHAME to be locked up for that long if innocent. The victim's sister is calling for him to be freed.

    The REAL SHAME is for the victim's family. If he didn't do it.............................WHO DID?

  • Real-Old-School Feb 11, 2010

    Brogden, I didn't listen to Bevel's testimony but I wouldn't put that much faith in what an expert who is hired and brought in from another state has to say. They can always find an expert to say about anything (on either side). Bevel did say that if he killed her then there should have been blood on his cloths or in the vehicle. That sounds idiotic considering he had hours to change and clean up and she was killed out on the pavement away from the truck. I think it still came down to the witness that put him with the victim. She pointed right at him in court and said that's the man that was with the dead girl in my kitchen. I beleive that is why the jury convicted him. If they can't get her to come forward and say she lied back then who should be able to override a jury after 17 years.

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