State News

SBI agent terminated from job

Posted January 10, 2011 3:40 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2011 11:22 a.m. EST

— The State Bureau of Investigation agent at the center of questions about the state crime lab’s policies and procedures, has been fired, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said Monday.

Duane Deaver’s testimony last year in a landmark case that ended in the exoneration of Gregory Taylor led to an independent review that concluded 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 during were linked to Deaver.

In two of the cases, 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.

Deaver was placed on administrative leave following the review while the SBI conducted an internal investigation into his actions. In October, Deaver returned to work in an administrative capacity.

Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Justice, which oversees the SBI, said Deaver was terminated on Friday. She did not say why.

Deaver plans to appeal the decision, his attorney, Philip Isley, told The Associated Press Monday afternoon.

"We believe this is just a political witch hunt against him, and he has suffered as a result of that," Isley said.

Isley said it appears Deaver was fired for three things – none of which he believes are grounds for termination.

He said Deaver was terminated, in part, because the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission has accused him of intentionally misleading the panel during testimony in Taylor’s case in September 2009.

But Isley has said it appears the accusation came because Deaver simply gave a confusing answer to a confusion question.

Isley said it appears Deaver was also fired for being unprofessional because, after completing a blood spatter analysis in 2009, Deaver said, "That's a wrap, baby."

He said the third thing cited in Deaver's firing was a violation of a policy while Deaver was recently on leave.

The Innocence Commission has asked for a court hearing to determine if Deaver should be held in criminal contempt for misleading the panel during the preliminary hearing in September 2009.

In his testimony, the Innocence Commission claims, Deaver denied the existence of a second test on a blood sample in Taylor’s case when, in fact, there was a second test that was negative for human blood.

That undisclosed information became a crucial factor for attorneys pushing for Taylor’s freedom.