Local Cases Among Those in SBI Crime Lab Review
To read the review, click here.
Revelations that state crime lab technicians twisted or omitted test results include convictions in Moore County, according to District Attorney Maureen Krueger.
Attorney General Roy Cooper ordered an independent review of the lab after the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission helped exonerate Greg Taylor, a Wake County man who spent 17 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
"Over 15,000 SBI lab files dating from 1987 and 2003 were reviewed," Krueger said. "Two hundred thirty cases were identified in which the analysts' lab report did not reflect the totality of the information in the analysts' notes - mainly that the agent did not report subsequent negative or inconclusive serology tests."
Former FBI agents Chris Swecker and Mike Wolf examined more than 15,000 cases at Cooper's request.
In February, SBI analyst Duane Deaver admitted he failed to report tests indicating a substance on Taylor's car was not actually blood. He said he had been told to write reports that way, and Swecker reported that the practice of leaving out some results was actually written policy in the lab as late as 2003.
"Three death convictions are involved," Krueger said. "One of those death sentences was carried out."
There are no capital cases from Moore County on the list of questionable cases, but two noncapital Moore County murder cases are on the list, according to Krueger.
"David Martin and John Lea," she said. "Martin pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1990 and has served his sentence. John Lea pled to involuntary manslaughter in 1995 and has served his sentence."
Martin, who was a local attorney, has since died.
Krueger was on a panel of district attorneys who met with the state attorney general this summer to review and offer recommendations on the situation with the SBI lab.
Some highly publicized convictions are being called into question across the state, with reverberations that could take years to unwind as defense attorneys and DAs recheck case after case.
"It can be jarring when truth comes out, sometimes," said local defense attorney Bruce Cunningham.
The four-month review only looked at how lab results were reported, but not at whether any unreported results would affect guilt or innocence. Everything in a trial, however, could have an effect not only on a verdict, but also on any sentence handed out following a conviction.
Since the revelations in the Taylor case, the attorney general has fired SBI Director Robin Pendergraft and appointed a new SBI director, Greg McLeod. On Wednesday, McCleod suspended Deaver, pending further investigation.
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
More like this story