News & Observer loses libel lawsuit from state police agent

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina state police agent has won a libel lawsuit against the News & Observer of Raleigh over an investigative story published in 2010.

The newspaper reported ( that a Wake County jury issued a $1.5 million verdict Tuesday against the newspaper after a three-week trial. The jury awarded the money as compensation for Beth Desmond’s suffering, humiliation, lost wages and medical expenses. Jurors also were to begin considering a punitive award Wednesday.

Desmond was a forensic firearms expert with the State Bureau of Investigation. She said she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after the newspaper published statements from firearms experts questioning her ballistics analysis.

She said the newspaper essentially accused her of committing a crime during an investigation.

Executive editor John Drescher said the stories were accurate and the newspaper will appeal.