Agents' Secrets

The truth seeps out at last; a man is freed

In September 1991, Greg Taylor, a Wake County man, had been accused of killing Jacquetta Thomas, a Raleigh woman whose battered body was abandoned in a cul de sac in Southeast Raleigh. Crime scene investigators collected samples of a dark substance staining the fender of Taylor's SUV; they wanted to know whether the stain was blood.

Two months later, SBI serologist and blood spatter expert Duane Deaver gave a report to Wake County prosecutors informing them that he found chemical indications for the presence of blood on the fender of Taylor's SUV. Deaver did not mention performing more sophisticated blood tests that concluded the substance was not blood.

It would take 18 years for the truth to seep out:

In 2009, the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission reviewed Taylor's claim of innocence. At a hearing in September, Deaver denied performing confirmatory blood tests.

Commission member Charles Becton asked Deaver: "...but you could not do test number two?"

Deaver: "That's correct."

This year, Taylor's lawyers discovered Deaver's notes from his 1991 analysis. He had performed confirmatory blood tests on two samples from the fender. According to his notes, those tests were negative.

On Feb. 2, Deaver tried to explain his analysis to Wake County prosecutors Colon Willoughby and Tom Ford. According to notes of the meeting taken by Ford's assistant, Deaver said he got no results from his confirmatory blood tests.

On Feb. 12, at a hearing that resulted in Taylor's exoneration, Deaver testified that supervisors taught him to exclude negative test results from his final lab reports.