Former SBI agent appeals dismissal

Staff writersMay 17, 2011 

Duane Deaver, the former SBI agent accused of misrepresenting blood work in dozens of cases, has appealed his bosses' decision to fire him, saying they abused their discretion.

Deaver filed a motion Monday with the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings asking for his job back. He said he was being held to a different standard than other SBI agents who were simply admonished, not fired for similar violations. He already exhausted internal appeals within the SBI to win his job back. The appeal finally makes public the SBI's three reasons for terminating Deaver.

Deaver's supervisors pointed to three things that undermined his credibility and brought the bureau into disrepute. They include:

• Deaver consulted on a case from Henderson County while on administrative duty; he also provided information about the case to other law enforcement agencies against policy.

• He has been charged with criminal contempt for statements made to members of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission; commission members have alleged that Deaver offered shifting statements about blood evidence during hearings in Sept. 2009 and Feb. 2010.

• In a video in which Deaver helped conduct a bloodstain pattern experiment, Deaver is heard saying "that's a rap baby" after his fellow agent manages to replicate a stain on the defendant's shirt. SBI officials said the comment was unprofessional and impacted his credibility.

Deaver offered many defenses to the actions criticized by SBI officials. Specifically, he said that an internal investigation into statements offered to the NC Innocence Inquiry Commission ended with a recommendation to dismiss the charges against him. Deaver also points out that a hearing on that matter has not yet been set.

Deaver's lawyers point to a long, strong career that brought very good or outstanding job performance ratings and an "impeccable reputation about law enforcement officers," according to the motion to appeal.

In reference to his celebratory comment in the video of the bloodstain experiment, Deaver said that a colleague who acted similarly in another highly publicized case only received a verbal admonition. In fact, they say that Deaver's termination while other agents criticized in the media remain employed, suggests that they action provided "political cover."

"Such disparate treatment should not be condoned or permitted by the State of North Carolina," Deaver said in his motion.

Deaver has been under fire on multiple fronts for more than a year.

Deaver, 51, has become the public face of an agency rocked by accusations of widespread mishandling of evidence.

Last August, independent auditors found Deaver withheld blood testing results. A commission investigating an innocence claim says Deaver lied to their members. Defense lawyers say he has helped manipulate evidence to bolster prosecutors' cases.

None of those allegations surfaced in his termination letter from the SBI.

For 22 years, he trained the agency's bloodstain pattern analysts and led that unit, which was suspended last summer by Attorney General Roy Cooper because of questions about its work. Deaver has acknowledged not reporting key blood evidence to prosecutors in the case of Greg Taylor, a Wake County man who spent 17 years in prison for murder before being exonerated last year.

Deaver's demise began last February, during the exoneration hearing of Taylor. At the hearing, Deaver acknowledged to a trio of judges that he had not told prosecutors in 1991 that sophisticated blood tests he performed suggested there was no blood on the suspect's SUV. Jurors were repeatedly told in Taylor's 1993 trial that blood was found on his vehicle.

Deaver also testified that he was doing what his bosses told him to do.

Deaver's tenure at the SBI was long and varied.

He joined the SBI out of college in 1987 and spent his entire career working at the SBI, hop-scotching from jobs in the serology unit to head of the bloodstain pattern analysis program. In recent years, he worked as a criminal profiler, helping local law enforcement officers come up with a psychological profile of a criminal capable of committing certain crimes. He also coordinated training for agents.

And, his legacy reached further than the cases he actually worked. Deaver trained all SBI agents and analysts the agency assigned to conduct bloodstain pattern analysis. Five other agents still employed by the SBI were available to analyze blood patterns at crime scenes as of August.

For 21 years, until 2009, that program operated with no policies or procedures.

Cooper, the attorney general, suspended the program in July, days after SBI leaders were confronted with questions about the program by The News & Observer.

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