State Politics

Panel says ex-SBI agent Deaver should get back pay but not his job

Former SBI Agent Duane Deaver looks back at his wife, Karen, during the last day of a three-day hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings in Raleigh on Friday. Deaver was in court challenging his 2011 firing.
Former SBI Agent Duane Deaver looks back at his wife, Karen, during the last day of a three-day hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings in Raleigh on Friday. Deaver was in court challenging his 2011 firing. cliddy@newsobserver.com

The N.C. Human Resources Commission has ruled that the State Bureau of Investigation was justified in firing its lead agent in blood-spatter cases, although he should receive back pay.

The commission said Duane Deaver can collect back pay and benefits for an 18-month period when he should have been demoted with a 10 percent pay cut instead of being fired in 2011.

Commissioners ruled that the SBI would have been justified in firing him in 2013, after an appeals court upheld a judge’s 2011 finding that Deaver had presented false or misleading evidence in the murder trial of Michael Peterson. The judge ordered a new trial as a result.

Deaver was fired on the grounds of making unprofessional remarks during a videotaped crime-scene re-creation in a different case, providing false and misleading testimony to the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission and disclosing confidential criminal investigation information in a complaint about a law enforcement officer.

The Human Resources Commission found the SBI failed to meet its burden of showing that all three allegations justified his dismissal. But the commission found the appeals court ruling in the Peterson case “conclusively established misconduct” that justified his firing.

In August, an administrative law judge upheld Deaver’s firing. A spokeswoman for the SBI said Friday that it will review the decision and determine whether to appeal.

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