Former SBI agent Duane Deaver showed a strong bias for the prosecution early in his career, according to SBI documents introduced in the Michael Peterson hearing today.
Peterson, a Durham novelist convicted of the 2001 murder of his wife, has said he deserves a new trial because Deaver, a key expert witness at his 2003 trial, had a history of tailoring his testimony to whatever the prosecution wanted him to say.
A training document from 1988 lent support to that theory this morning. That year, Deaver and Michael Budzynski, a fellow scientist at the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab, went through a mock court training session. The agents reviewed a set of facts and testified as if they were in court, subject to direct and cross examination.
According to the SBI evaluation by Mark Nelson, their supervisor, Budzynski has a number of strengths, including the observation that he presented the material impartially. Deaver won points for good public speaking and comfort in front of an audience. One of his weaknesses: A strong bias toward the prosecution.
The pro-prosecution bias was a huge concern for Tim Palmbach, a lawyer and forensic scientist who chairs of the forensic science department at the University of New Haven and the former director of the Connecticut State Crime lab. Palmbach, who testified as a defense witness in Petersons 2003 trial, said he was alarmed by the report that Deaver, an expert witness, had a pro-prosecution bias.
They have a horse in the race, Palmbach testified today. The expert coming into a courtroom shouldnt care about the results, whether its guilt or innocence.
Kathleen Peterson, a Nortel Networks executive, died in a pool of blood at the bottom of a blood spattered staircase in the Petersons Forest Hills mansion in December 2001. The case was nationally televised and was the subject of books, documentaries and a feature film.
Deaver was a critical witness in the case. Jurors have said his testimony was critical to their deliberations and verdict, and in particular his opinion that a blood stain in the crotch of Petersons shorts could only have been put there during an assault.
Over the past two years, a stream of damaging information has emerged about Deaver: -- the exoneration of a Wake County man based in large part on Deaver's work in the case; -- a damning audit by former senior FBI officials; -- the suspension and disbanding of a bloodstain analysis team that Deaver trained and led; and -- a finding by a federal judge that Deaver gave misleading testimony in a 1993 murder case.
Read more about this hearing and prior trials involving Deaver with the Related Content links on the right side of this page.