Local News

Attorney general suspends SBI blood stain analysis

Posted July 30, 2010
Updated July 31, 2010

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday that he has suspended activity of the State Bureau of Investigation's blood stain analysis program, saying procedures need to be further reviewed.

Cooper halted the program last weekend, meaning its six certified bloodstain analysts will no longer examine blood stains and spatters.

They will continue testing blood for DNA, drugs and other purposes, Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office, said.

In March, Cooper ordered an internal investigation and also brought in two former assistant FBI directors to review the state crime lab, its methods and cases involving blood spatter analysis following the exoneration of Gregory Taylor.

The outside findings are expected soon, although Cooper did not say when.

Taylor served 17 years in prison for a crime that a special judicial panel determined he did not commit. Part of the issue with his conviction had to do with blood evidence that an SBI agent never turned over during Taylor's 1993 trial that could have proved he wasn't responsible for the killing.

Special Agent Duane Deaver testified in a special hearing in February that he omitted in the trial important follow-up test results on a sample from Taylor's truck that showed no presence of blood.

The results, Deaver said, were in his notes but he did not include them in his formal report because SBI policy at the time was to report evidence that showed an indication for blood, even when follow-up tests were negative.

Blood stain analysis on hold at SBI lab Blood stain analysis on hold at SBI lab

State law now requires the SBI and other law enforcement agencies to turn over all notes for the prosecution and defense.

Robin Pendergraft, who took over as SBI director in 2001, admitted in February that the policy was not a good practice.

Defense attorneys have criticized her for not taking necessary steps to address problems when she became aware of them.

An announcement Thursday that Cooper's legislative liaison, Greg McLeod, is taking over as SBI director so Pendergraft can take on a new role in the Attorney General's Office was welcome news for them.

"I'm pleased to see there's been a change," said David Rudolf, who has represented clients who have sued the SBI. "On the other hand, I'd prefer to see someone come in from the outside – moreover, someone with experience to reform a law enforcement agency top-down and to change the culture."

Cooper said Pendergraft's move has nothing to do with her performance, calling her an "excellent SBI director and law enforcement leader."

Rudolf said he believes the SBI Crime Lab should be an independent agency, because the culture in the lab centers on building a case to support field agents' theories instead of the truth.

Taylor's attorney, Christine Mumma, who is also director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, agrees.

"Change was absolutely necessary. It’s a first step that needed to be taken. Analysts follow directions of the director," she said. "The SBI Lab should be independent from the Attorney General's Office. It should be neutral and fair. Right now, it is the prosecutor's lab, not the justice system's lab."

35 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • deepriver Aug 2, 2010

    Time for Reuben Young to go..

  • sg0544 Aug 2, 2010

    shenanigans-
    You're right that Pendergraft wasn't the director of the SBI when Greg Taylor was convicted. The problem is her response once she was made aware of the problems with that case. She publicly defended the dishonest and unethical behavior of one of her agents. Although the agent's dishonesty resulted in a man spending 17 years in prison, she refused to admit he had done anything wrong. The agent faced no consequences for his actions. If she condones unethical behavior and abuse of power she shouldn't be in charge of any agency, especially not a law enforcement agency.

  • fantastic361 Aug 2, 2010

    I'm sorry but who said Taylor was innocent? He was exonerated because of an ounce of reasonable doubt not because anyone was PROVED he was innocent. Technicalities. Before you all come on here and blame Agent Deaver you need to look into what the case was about. The media has portrayed Taylor as some sort of saint and the SBI as an evil organization but technology was at fault in this case.

  • shenanigans Jul 30, 2010

    This seems like another politician looking out for their interests at the expense of someone else. It just doesn’t add up: Pendergraft wasn’t Director when Taylor was put in prison – so how is it remotely her fault about the blood-splatter test results back in 1993? The Attorney General is trying to make it appear he’s “in control” so he might retain his job when his term is up or might move along to something “bigger and better” if the opportunity presents itself. Pendergraft can’t possibly have been incompetent; she was Director longer than anyone in history which doesn’t scream incompetence to me – unless it was with her boss’s judgment. The timing of all of this doesn't add up, sounds like Pendergraft is just being a scapegoat. Our State Government is a national embarrassment - politicians going to jail and being investigated for unethical behavior. This is just more of "The Political Game" and someone else having their name sullied rather than the political

  • oleguy Jul 30, 2010

    We got bigger fish to fry, about 12 million blood test to pay for and support,,,

    Vote in Nov. Re elect no one

  • freedomfromAmeriKa Jul 30, 2010

    back to the original point, our best intelligence agency can't manage the dna we alread have!

  • ratherbnnc Jul 30, 2010

    So what if they take your blood. You would wish the same when some criminals molests your relative and you want him caught.

  • freedomfromAmeriKa Jul 30, 2010

    rattherbnnc - your disinformation fails to realize the truth that big government fails upon almost every level including your rights to liberty. in the near future, officers here will have the ability, despite your esteemed law degree, to take your blood. btw, my attorney garners $250 per hour. How much does your officer make?

  • ratherbnnc Jul 30, 2010

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/06/651.asp http://dwi.austindefense.com/articles/blood-test-cases/ (3rd post).
    freedomfromAmeriKa

    Spending at 20 years in Law Enforcement, I think I have some knowledge about it. How much does your street corner lawyer degree have?

  • ratherbnnc Jul 30, 2010

    >>Know your facts!

    You're new here, aren't you?
    Click to view my profile froggytroat

    Nope, not really!

More...