Questions remain about SBI's role in Taylor case


"One of the jurors said that the blood on the truck was the most important thing to them when they decided it," offered Taylor defense attorney Joe Cheshire.

But it turns out the substance that prosecutors said was blood wasn't. And, veteran NC State Bureau of Investigation agent Duane Deaver admitted last week before a special three-judge panel hearing Taylor's claim of innocence that he did not turn over negative test results for Taylor's original trial.

His own lab notes from 1991 showed he could not prove blood on the truck. Taylor's new lawyers were stunned when they found them just last year.

"And there it was in black and white, in Deaver's handwriting," recalled defense lawyer Mike Kinkosum.

Taylor's original defense team never saw the real lab results. That may be because Deaver's 1991 report never mentioned them.

"They knew the truth all along. And by they, I mean the people who prepared that report," said Taylor.

Instead, Deaver reported that Taylor's truck contained "chemical indications for the presence of blood." What he did not say was the tests were only preliminary and could also be rust or plant matter.

"It makes me feel kind of insignificant, to be honest with you. But people have their own agendas," offered Taylor.

So, why did Agent Deaver not report his own negative blood tests? Under oath, he made a surprising claim. He said he was just following SBI rules.

"The SBI had a protocol for everything that we did and the way things were stated," he testified.

That stunned former Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake who sat through the hearing.

"I had no idea that was their policy. And apparently they do have some policy like that. And I think it's atrocious," Lake told ABC11.

ABC11 tried to get Deaver to clarify the policy when we tried to interview him.

"Mr. Deaver did we understand you correctly that you were saying that deleting negative test results from blood tests is standard practice in the SBI?" asked a reporter.

"That's not what I said," Deaver responded.

"Well, could you explain that a little better?" we asked.

Deaver kept walking and didn't respond to the second question.

Taylor's new lawyers were not the first to question Agent Deaver's blood tests. Just four months ago, a federal judge threw out a death sentence against convicted killer George Goode, saying Deaver's "testimony falsely portrayed to the jury that he conducted a test for blood which indicated blood, not some substance which might be blood."

"There's that case and now Greg Taylor's case. And you have to ask the question: How many other cases are there?" asked Taylor defense lawyer Mike Klinkosum.

Taylor's defense team also questions whether state crime labs can be truly impartial considering it's law enforcement that's running them.

"Why is the criminal laboratory under the auspices of the Attorney General's office?" Cheshire questioned.

And Justice Lake says someone still has a lot to explain.

"We ought to hear from the Attorney General and the organizational prosecutors around the state that they will never allow that to happen again in their courts," Lake said.

ABC11 tried to interview Attorney General Roy Cooper and SBI Director Robin Pendergraft for this story - both declined.

But six days after Deaver's testimony, and after the ruling that finally set Greg Taylor free, Pendergraft released a written statement that seems to contradict Agent Deaver.

"Records from the time the analysis was conducted show that the SBI Crime Lab did not have a policy to withhold testing results. We are continuing to review the lab analyses in this case," said Pendergraft. "Under the SBI Quality Assurance Manual dated May 25, 1990, analysts were to record a description of the evidence sample tested, notes on all tests performed including results, and a final lab report. This information has always been available to attorneys in the case through discovery, as it is available in all cases."

"The SBI did not then and does not now have a policy to withhold any evidence or testing results."

While the SBI is reviewing Deaver's reports from the Taylor case, it declined to say if it's going to review any of his other cases. Meanwhile, he remains on the job and in good standing with the SBI.

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