Local News

Prosecutors worry SBI troubles will lead to more dismissed cases

Posted December 13, 2010

— After a murder charge was dismissed against a Durham man who spent more than a decade behind bars, prosecutors and defense attorneys said Monday that more criminal cases could be thrown out.

A judge dismissed the case against Derrick Michael Allen after his lawyer argued that the State Bureau of Investigation had violated his constitutional rights by not sharinge everything it found in blood tests.

Allen, 31, was charged in 1998 in the death and sexual assault of a 2-year-old girl. An autopsy showed the girl died of shaken baby syndrome.

His case was among about 200 cases that an independent audit said were mishandled by the SBI. The audit revealed agents failed to report correct blood evidence in the cases.

Allen has maintained his innocence and was released on bond in September after spending more than a decade in prison.

Defense attorneys across the state are hopeful about the potential impact of the decision.

"That will encourage the judges to take a real hard look at cases that otherwise are just being passed through the system," defense lawyer Mike Unti said Monday.

Unti represents Johnny Daughtry, who was convicted in 1993 of killing his former girlfriend and sentenced to death. As in Derrick Allen's case, Unti said, the SBI's process in Daughtry's case was full of inconsistencies and discrepancies.

"There were more tests performed than was reported in the formal lab report," he said. "Only those that showed a positive result ended up in the testimony of the SBI agent at trial."

That agent was Duane Deaver, the analyst involved with many of the cases highlighted in the independent audit. Daughtry's case wasn't listed in the report.

"A lot of us have known all along that there are some real problems with the SBI and with the evidence that's being put on," defense lawyer Sharon Smith said.

Johnny Daughtry case file SBI's troubles give hope to defense attorneys

Some prosecutors said they are concerned that emotions might play a role in certain cases.

"Decisions ought to be made based on the evidence and the proper criminal procedure, not whether or not someone is upset or doesn't like the way things went 10 or 15 years ago," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "There may be other evidence that overshadows (the SBI analysis). It may not be necessary to use that piece of evidence."

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Mich Garrell tried that tack on Friday in Allen's case. He argued that two doctors found evidence of sexual assault on the child and that the SBI evidence had nothing to do with the homicide charge against Allen.

Daughtry's attorneys said they're prepared to head to federal court if the state court ruling does not go their way. They're also considering similar action for many of their other clients.


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  • 6079 SMITH W Dec 14, 2010

    Hold on now, Granny. We ain't bashing the system. We ARE bashing those clowns at the SBI who try to match a suspect with a crime, never mind they ain't guilty of it. I know that young man that was locked up for 18 YEARS of his life for raping a twelve-year old little girl. The only problem with that is....he didn't do it. So how did he end up in prison?

  • JKKC Dec 14, 2010

    For those of you bashing the system, just remember, it goes both ways. Wasn't but a month ago an individual should have been shown the express lane to the execution chamber, yet was given life instead. And, also not long ago, most everybody was all up in arms due to law enforcement taking its time in regards to the death of a little girl.

  • Bronco Dec 14, 2010

    Kind of a hard way to make money but i guess i works for some..Get a wrong conviction..be sentenced to prison.. later on get that sentence oveturned..sue the State of North Carolina..get a big pay day..it works..

  • clayrock84 Dec 14, 2010

    I guess prosecutors are worried about more problems. If the SBI crime lab employees had been reporting the facts correctly, instead of lying and excluding the correct facts, things would not look so bad for them. Just how many innocent people are in our prisons? How many SBI employees should be in prison themselves for what they have done? I am ashamed of our entire justice system for putting people behind bars just to close a case and make themselves look good. It's high time the lying employees and held accountable

  • TheDude abides... Dec 14, 2010

    Well, you reap what you sow. If we had a culture that held the TRUTH in high regard and wasnt worried about those crime-stats and conviction rates, this big mess wouldnt have happened.

    Now, hundreds of convicted criminals (along with the innocent) are gonna be let loose due to DAs and LEOs trying to take the easy/lazy way out and skip over the judge and jury.

    Note to SBI: You work for the PEOPLE, not the courts OR the victims families.

  • 6079 SMITH W Dec 14, 2010

    chfdcpt: What you said....and when they get out, they should be shot, then sent to the Russian front...per Col. Klink! ;)

  • applesmith Dec 14, 2010

    Everything but the truth comes out at a trail. Prosecutors know about all the evidence. Full disclosure/discovery of all the evidence and witness to be called at trial are by law given to the defense. If this is the case where evidence was denied or held back because of a SBI agent or prosecutor then they should go to jail. Prosecutors or DA'S are in the loop from the beginning. This "i did not know about the evidence" is a cop out.If the SBI tseted the evidence the prosecutor knows about it!!!!

  • chfdcpt Dec 14, 2010

    How about making a law, that if a person is wrongfully convicted due to lying, misleading evidence, tampering etc; that the prosecutor and the officers involved have to serve the same time that the innocent person served?

  • usnret Dec 14, 2010

    6079 SMITH W
    I agree, it's worked for the FBI why not for the SBI? ;)

  • 6079 SMITH W Dec 14, 2010

    I agree with the SBI...it would be pure insanity to let any innocent persons out of prison just because the evidence against them was fabricated, or withheld because it would have proven them innocent to begin with. The SBI has a reputation to uphold, and if a few are mistakenly locked up, or even executed, it is a small price to pay for the appearance of professionalism in our top law enforcement agency. ;)