State News

Contempt charge dropped against former SBI agent

Posted September 14, 2011

Duane Deaver speaks publicly for the first time since he was fired by the State Bureau of Investigation during a March 4, 2011, interview with WRAL Investigates. An independent review of the way the SBI has handled blood evidence discredited some of Deaver's work and led to his termination.
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— A Superior Court judge on Wednesday dismissed a contempt charge against a former State Bureau of Investigation agent whose work prompted a review of the agency's crime lab.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission had requested a hearing where Duane Deaver would have to show a judge why he shouldn't be held in criminal contempt for his testimony before the commission two years ago.

Deaver's attorney, Philip Isley, declined to comment on the dismissal. Representatives of the innocence commission couldn't be reached for comment.

Last year, the innocence commission accused Deaver of intentionally misleading the panel during September 2009 testimony in a landmark case that ended with the exoneration of Greg Taylor, who had served almost 17 years for the murder of a prostitute in Raleigh.

The commission recommended that Taylor's case go to a special three-judge panel, which declared Taylor innocent in February 2010.

The commission then asked for a contempt hearing for Deaver, alleging that he didn't disclose all his blood testing when he testified before the panel. The motion for the hearing focused on confusing and seemingly contradictory comments Deaver gave to a commission investigator and testimony at the hearing.

Deaver's testimony triggered fresh questions about the SBI lab's policies and procedures, leading to an independent review that concluded SBI analysts had frequently misstated or falsely reported blood evidence during a 16-year period ending in 2003.

Some egregious violations found during the review were linked to Deaver. In two of the cases, including one that ended in an execution, Deaver's final report on blood analyses said his tests "revealed the presence of blood" when his notes indicated negative results from follow-up tests. His notes indicate that he got a negative result because he didn't have enough sample left for the confirmatory test.

Deaver and the state held a court-ordered mediation session last Friday with former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Henry Frye. During the session, Deaver acknowledged "the confusing nature of his testimony" and agreed that the commission could have been misled, according to the mediated settlement agreement.

Because of his admission, the commission agreed to drop the contempt charge, and Judge Osmond Smith III, who ordered the mediation, dismissed the charge.

The dismissal could affect Deaver's attempt to regain his job. Attorney General Roy Cooper based his decision to fire Deaver partly on the contempt charge.

Taylor's suit against Deaver also cites the charge.

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  • kodac31 Sep 16, 2011

    *Continued*
    Take an ethical lesson from Judge Osmand Smith III in how to handle matters like this instead of the malicious unethical and certainly unwarranted actions she took upon a great trooper years ago all for the sole purpose of trying to score political points and get free advertisment for her run for the NC Court of Appeals....in which she thankfully lost. Absolutely Shameful action.

  • kodac31 Sep 16, 2011

    Judge Osmond Smith III, who ordered the mediation, & dismissed the contempt charge did the right thing. He is an great Judge, very firm on the bench, yet fair. He saw clearly that there was not enough evidence to meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard to find the Agent Guilty of Criminal Contempt. He also used fair judgement in realizing that there was confusion in the testimony, and confusion in the written policy of how the SBI Agents were to handle written notes, etc). In my opinion, Judge Smith also took into account Agent Deaver's long service to the SBI and saw no reason to continue to use this contempt issue to add more trampling on Agent Deaver who has already been deamonized by the media and defense attorneys and the public. There were some problems with the POLICY & PROCEDURES at the SBI and this in and of itself rest soley at the responsibility of NC State Attorney General Roy Cooper. Wake District Court Judge Kristen Ruth should take a lesson in ethics from Ju

  • sg0544 Sep 15, 2011

    "That's where I think I disagree. I don't believe there was a falsifying of records. You set a standard within your department that says it can't be used as a valid sample unless the clarity meets certain criteria. Even if you think its fine, the rules say its invalid. I don't call that falsifying records."--DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT
    His report should have contained all the tests he performed and the results of those tests. Mr. Deaver performed confirmatory tests and got negative results. He decided ultimately to call those results inconclusive. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is he did not state in his report that confirmatory tests were done and inconclusive results were obtained. I beleive people are saying he falsified the report because he left out pertinent information that should have been included.

  • FE Sep 14, 2011

    Regarding the following earlier exchange here:

    "it was false enough to get a supposedly innocent person executed." RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman

    "Sorry to but in here but where did you get that a supposedly innocent person was executed based on Deavers evidence? That's just simply not true." - V1ROT8

    The real facts of the issue have little to do with the "conclusions" of some/many posters here, as clearly evidenced by RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman. For anyone who regularly reads the WRAL GOLO boards, that person spends a large amount of time blocking folks who do not agree with her own ideas and perspectives. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately??) no one can block anyone on these moderated boards. Of course, this is an open board where anyone can comment.

    In the future I would suggest you just consider the source and move on to the NEXT comment as quickly as possible. Hopefully that new person will be in touch with some factual information to add to the discussion.

    FE

  • more cowbell Sep 14, 2011

    What's next? He'll sue for backpay and get his old job back with a raise.
    rkbllc

    That would be the best case scenario but I think he would most likely tell them where they can stick the "job." His reputation is much more valuable than the inflated egos of the innocence commission.

  • rkbllc Sep 14, 2011

    What's next? He'll sue for backpay and get his old job back with a raise.

  • V1ROT8 Sep 14, 2011

    it was false enough to get a supposedly innocent person executed.
    RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman

    Sorry to but in here but where did you get that a supposedly innocent person was executed based on Deavers evidence? That's just simply not true.

  • V1ROT8 Sep 14, 2011

    Wow, commenters here are so quick to judge. I'll bet if half of you did a little research you would quickly change your tune. Been following this story for a while. Remember folks, the media will present this in such a way as to make you belive certian things that aren't correct. They have alot invested in making Deaver out to be the crook so they won't be so quick to put him in a good light now that things are looking favorable for him. People automatically belive everything in the media without doing a little digging for the facts and then comment on here as judge jury and executioner. Has anyone even bothered to watch his interview on WRAL in it's entirety? I belive he explains everything clearly and in a way any person can understand. What about all the other evidence that convicted Taylor? Why wasn't Deaver called to testify in the origional trial? THINK PEOPLE!!!!! More people behind this and I belive Deaver was a fall guy.

    Congratulations Mr. Deaver. I hope you find peace.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 14, 2011

    DeathRow - "That's where I think I disagree. I don't believe there was a falsifying of records. You set a standard within your department that says it can't be used as a valid sample unless the clarity meets certain criteria. Even if you think its fine, the rules say its invalid. I don't call that falsifying records."

    I understand what you're saying, but it was false enough to get a supposedly innocent person executed.

  • familyfour Sep 14, 2011

    Most commenters here know absolutely nothing about this case, or the law for that fact, other than what they read regurgitated on this and other social networking sites. Mr. Deaver was assigned the short straw as the fall guy for the dipsticks directing the operations. Before you critisize, do some homework other than facebook or golo.
    willemakeit

    Exactly. He was just the "fall guy". You know someone has to take the blame, and it will never be "the system".

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