Fired SBI agent appeals for his job

Termination letter says Duane Deaver's actions undermined his credibility.

Staff WritersMay 18, 2011 

Duane Deaver is fighting to get his job back at the State Bureau of Investigation, saying that he is being held to a different standard than other agents who have erred.

Deaver, 51, filed a motion Monday with the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings asking for his job back. He already exhausted internal appeals within the SBI. If he prevails at the administrative hearing level, SBI officials could be forced to reinstate him.

Deaver's termination letter became public as part of his filing with the OAH.

In the letter, 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, which violated policy.

Criminal contempt charges filed against him for statements made to members of the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission; commission members have alleged that Deaver offered shifting statements about blood evidence during hearings in September 2009 and February 2010.

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

That comment was highlighted in August in a News & Observer series, "Agents' Secrets."

Deaver offered many defenses to the actions criticized by SBI officials. Specifically, he said that an SBI internal investigation into statements offered to the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission ended with a recommendation that he not be disciplined. 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. His lawyers say that Deaver's termination provided "political cover" for the SBI.

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

mandy.locke@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8927

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