agent Deaver likely to face a judge about his
agent Duane Deaver will likely face a judge to explain why
he shouldn't be sent to jail for making shifting explanations about
criminal blood tests.
The N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission, meeting in private Friday, voted
unanimously to initiate the process that could result in Deaver's being
held in contempt. At issue: his different statements about blood tests
which, in part, led to an innocent man's being locked away in prison
for 17 years.
The commission is asking its chairman, Superior Court Judge Quentin
Sumner, to hold a contempt of court hearing for Deaver. If Sumner
consents, which is likely because he voted for the recommendation
Friday, he could either appoint another judge or hold the hearing
Deaver would be asked to explain why he shouldn't be held in criminal
contempt of court, a misdemeanor that can carry 30 days in jail and/or
a fine of $500. Philip Isley, Deaver's lawyer, said, "We look forward
to any such hearing in this case." He declined to discuss specifics.
Friday's vote to pursue contempt charges was a bold move for the
commission. The first board of its kind in the United States, the
commission was established in 2006 to examine claims of innocence. So
far, Wake County man Greg Taylor is the first person exonerated through
the unique process.
Mike Klinkosum, one of Taylor's lawyers, said he was heartened by the
"It is finally coming to light what Agent Deaver has been doing in his
testimony for years," Klinkosum said.
In October 2009, a federal judge called Deaver's testimony in another
case "false" and "misleading.'
The state legislature created the innocence commission to be a judicial
body with special powers. Those who testify at its hearings are placed
under oath and could face penalties of perjury if they lie.
The most likely question a judge will consider in Taylor's case is
simple: Did Deaver lie to the commission in September 2009 about blood
tests performed on Taylor's SUV in 1991. During that hearing, Deaver
said he did not perform more sophisticated tests to determine whether a
stain on the SUV was, in fact, blood. Commission members weren't
provided copies of Deaver's lab notes and didn't press him further
about the tests then.
Extra tests confirmed
But in February, Deaver's statements shifted dramatically. At that
point, Taylor's attorneys had studied Deaver's lab notes from the case
and saw that he'd performed several sophisticated tests. Furthermore,
some of those indicated negative results.
When pressed in February, Deaver acknowledged the extra tests. He said
it was policy at the SBI not to report results of these more
An audit commissioned soon after Taylor's exoneration found a longtime
practice in the SBI's blood analysis unit of omitting results of
sophisticated tests. That practice became policy in 1997. Auditors
flagged 229 cases tainted by the practice.
Test results overstated
At the center of the five cases deemed most serious: Deaver. In these,
the auditor, former FBI supervisor Chris Swecker, found that Deaver had
overstated test results or reported results contradicted in his lab
Deaver will likely face civil lawsuits for his work as a blood analyst.
Defense lawyers say his behavior in the cases cited in the audit should
prompt a criminal investigation.
A shining star
It's a long fall for Deaver, considered a shining star at the SBI since
he joined the forensic crime laboratory soon out of college in the late
1980s. Over the years, he testified in hundreds of trials and became
the agency's point person for bloodstain pattern analysis. That unit
was suspended this summer, amid criticisms that its work is
In the past six weeks, Deaver has been suspended from the SBI pending
an internal investigation into his role in the practice of withholding
critical blood test results.
A spokeswoman for the SBI said Friday that Deaver remains on paid leave
while the investigation continues.
If Deaver is found guilty, it will be a black eye for an agency already
embattled. No SBI agent has ever been charged with perjury or lying to
Klinkosum called for an investigation into whether Deaver obstructed
North Carolina SBI
Agent Duane Deaver
THE TAYLOR CASE AND CONFLICTING COMMENTS
In September 1991, Greg Taylor, a Wake County man, was 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
reported to Wake County prosecutors 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:
Days before the innocence commission hearing, Kendra Montgomery-Blinn
spoke with Deaver on the phone and asked about his reports. She asked
if he was able to test beyond the basic, presumptive test. Deaver
"We would have tested that further if there'd been additional sample.
Because it wasn't done, means it was gone," Deaver said.
Montgomery-Blinn asked: "The sample got used up during this testing?"
Deaver responded: "Wherever we end, that was the end of it."
Later in the conversation, Montgomery-Blinn asked if there was anything
else tested that was not reflected in his lab reports. Deaver indicated
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: " ... [B]ut 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.