SBI director testifies in Deaver hearing

The director of the SBI defended the decision to fire a former crime lab agent in testimony Thursday.
April 3, 2014 3:09:13 PM PDT
The director of the SBI defended the decision to fire a former crime lab agent in testimony Thursday.

Duane Deaver is fighting to get his job back after being fired in 2011.

Deaver was fired after his handling of dozens of cases involving blood stain evidence was questioned as part of a larger outside review of the SBI crime lab.

The review flagged some 200 cases as improperly handled. Investigators said some of the most egregious violations were linked to Deaver. In two of the cases, Deaver's final report on blood analyses said his tests "revealed the presence of blood" when his notes indicated negative results from follow-up tests.

Problems with Deaver's work and testimony led to a new trial for Durham novelist Michael Peterson - who was convicted in 2003 of the 2001 killing of his wife. Deaver also admitted he withheld blood evidence at the trial of Greg Taylor - who spent 17 years in prison for the murder of a Raleigh woman before he was finally exonerated.

While a lot of the testimony Wednesday was favorable to Deaver, that wasn't the case Thursday.

Deaver has been surrounded in the small courtroom by family as well as current and former SBI agents. Some are on his side. Some aren't, like Greg McLeod -- the man who fired him.

Thursday, McLeod made it clear that, of the reasons cited for firing Deaver, one of the biggest was because judges on the state's Innocence Commission considered holding him in contempt for providing them false and misleading testimony about blood in a murder case.

At the time, the SBI was under fire especially concerning its lab and blood evidence experts.

Deaver's attorneys claim their client was unjustly fired and was a scapegoat.

However, McLeod defended his decision -- pointing to the innocence commission's findings.

"An action like this, which is unprecedented against any SBI agent and certainly will follow that person for the rest of their life, and certainly because of that, that type of significant action by this judicial tribunal, I don't see how an agent can continue to work and perform the essential functions of an SBI agent."

In later testimony, McLeod admitted that an internal investigation by his own agency about whether Deaver ever lied in court was inconclusive.

Deaver is expected to testify Friday. The hearing is expected to go on for several days.

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