Local News

SBI report expected Wednesday

Posted August 17, 2010
Updated August 18, 2010

— A report on the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is expected to be released Wednesday, WRAL News has learned.

In March, Attorney General Cooper asked two former FBI assistant directors to look at the SBI Crime Lab's practices, following the exoneration of Gregory Taylor, who served nearly 17 years in prison for murder.

A special three-judge panel heard testimony in February that complete blood test results had been excluded from crime lab reports presented at Taylor's 1993 trial.

An SBI agent testified that the lab results, which could have helped prove Taylor's innocence, were not included in the reports because it was SBI policy at the time not to do so.

The practice changed years ago, but Cooper, last month, suspended activity of the lab's blood stain analysis program, saying procedures and cases involving the program needed further review.

He also announced that longtime SBI director Robin Pendergraft was stepping down from the post she held since 2001 to take on a new position in his office. The move had nothing to do with the review, Cooper said.

Some defense attorneys have criticized Pendergraft for being slow to change and have also called for the Crime Lab to be independent of the SBI, saying it seeks to build cases to support law enforcement's theories instead of the truth.

The state chapter of the NAACP has also called for a thorough review of the SBI practices, including an examination of SBI testimony for potential bias.

It also wants the state to empanel a commission to review the criminal justice system.

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