The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation will examine thousands of old cases analyzed in its forensic lab two decades ago to look for crucial evidence that may have been withheld from defendants, reports the Raleigh News and Observer. The review follows the recent exoneration of Greg Taylor, who spent 17 years in prison for a killing he did not commit. Duane Deaver, a veteran SBI crime lab analyst, told prosecutors in 1991 that a substance found on Taylor’s truck was blood. But Deaver did not reveal that the substance was not human blood, and he recently said he was simply following standard policy.
State Attorney General Roy Cooper, who heads the SBI, said he has ordered a review to make sure prosecutors and defendants received critical information. He said, “If the crime lab was deficient, we need to know, and the public needs to know it will be remedied.” Defense attorneys and forensic scientists demanded an extensive review. Defense lawyers in particular fear that Deaver’s approach to the Taylor case might have been common at the SBI crime lab. The SBI review is being done internally at the Attorney General’s Office. Cooper said he might call for an independent review depending on his staff’s findings. No personnel or leadership changes at the SBI have been made in the wake of Taylor’s exoneration.