State News

Convict blames SBI, seeks new trial

Posted October 20, 2010 7:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2010 11:17 p.m. EDT

— A man convicted of murder requested a new trial on Wednesday, citing widespread problems with the state’s crime lab and an investigator accused of misrepresenting blood evidence in his case.

Attorney Diane Savage said in a court motion that a new trial is necessary for George Goode, adding to the legal morass caused by questionable practices at the State Bureau of Investigation.

“I think justice kind of demands that he gets a new trial,” Savage said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The trial was completely tainted.”

Goode was originally sentenced to death for the 1992 murders of a couple that owned a Johnston County mobile home park.

A federal judge threw out that sentence last year, citing ineffective attorneys, and earlier this year Goode was re-sentenced to two life terms.

Savage first raised concerns about her client’s case in 2004.

At the time, Goode’s original attorneys signed affidavits admitting they didn’t know enough about blood evidence. Once called the cross-examination of SBI agent Duane Deaver “wholly ineffective.”

The federal judge in the case reprimanded Deaver for misleading testimony at Goode’s 1993 trial because he led jurors to believe that he found blood, when he had only conducted a preliminary test that indicated the possibility it was present.

Deaver was also cited in an SBI report two months ago for mishandling blood evidence in several cases, and officials reviewing the crime lab found dozens of other cases with problems.

“The shocking nature and scope of these developments is such that (Goode) deserves a new trial,” Savage wrote in her motion, filed in federal court.

Attorney General Roy Cooper has ordered a further review of policies at the crime lab and for prosecutors to review cases mentioned in the inquest.

A spokeswoman for the SBI did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

Goode was convicted in the beating and stabbing deaths of Leon and Margaret Batten. He has insisted that he was there when they were killed but did not participate. He was convicted along with his brother and another man.

Deaver’s testimony at an innocence hearing earlier this year triggered fresh scrutiny of the SBI lab’s policies and procedures.

He was also the agent who handled evidence in the case of Greg Taylor, who was exonerated earlier this year after spending years behind bars for murder.

North Carolina’s Innocence Inquiry Commission has accused Deaver of intentionally misleading the panel during testimony in Taylor’s case and wants a judge to decide whether he should be held in criminal contempt.