Discredited state blood analyst makes final bid for reinstatement
Posted October 9, 2014 6:26 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2014 10:02 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A blood analyst fired almost four years ago from the State Bureau of Investigation on Thursday took his final shot at winning his job back.
The state Human Resources Commission heard Duane Deaver's appeal of his January 2011 termination.
In his nearly 25-year career at the SBI, Deaver went from being a rising star – he was the go-to guy for blood stain analysis – to being a lightning rod, the symbol of a system accused of withholding evidence.
A 2010 independent review of the crime lab concluded that SBI analysts had frequently misstated or falsely reported blood evidence in about 200 criminal cases during a 16-year period ending in 2003. Some of the most egregious violations found were linked to Deaver.
Deaver's lawyers argue that the SBI made him a scapegoat while the agency was under legislative and public scrutiny for the policies and procedures of the state crime lab, noting that SBI officials never included those allegations in their decision to fire him.
The agency cited the following findings to determine that he had violated agency policies:
- The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission accused him of intentionally misleading the panel during a 2009 hearing on Greg Taylor, who was later determined to have been wrongly convicted in a Raleigh murder case.
- At the end of a 2009 video demonstration of blood spatter analysis in a case, he said, "That's a wrap, baby."
- While on leave in late 2010 while the SBI investigated questions of his performance raised in the outside review of the crime lab, he didn't notify his superiors or seek their approval before assisting a criminal profiler in filing a formal complaint against a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent who was providing a profile in a western North Carolina case.
Attorney Philip Isley argued Thursday that a grievance committee of Deaver's peers decided the actions didn't warrant firing.
"They came to the conclusion, which we agree with, that Mr. Deaver was inappropriately terminated, no just cause existed and he should be reinstated," Isley told the Human Resources Commission.
Special Deputy Attorney General Charles Whitehead countered that SBI leaders and an administrative law judge backed the termination.
"I believe all of these issues taken as a whole lead to a proper determination of just cause dismissal," Whitehead said.
The Human Resources Commission has many options. It can uphold the firing, reinstate Deaver or provide back pay and retirement benefits. A decision is expected in two to three weeks.