Federal Judge to Allow Confessions Used in Butler Trial - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/25/03

Federal Judge to Allow Confessions Used in Butler Trial

The defense asked the judge to suppress a statement Dr. Thomas Butler gave to the FBI in January. The defense felt it was an influenced statement, not accurate of what had happened.

Meanwhile, a handful of Butler supporters sitting by waiting to hear what the judge would decide.

The hearing inside the Federal Courthouse lasted four hours before the judge made his decision. The defense adamant to convince District Judge, Sam Cummings, Butler's statement was coerced by FBI agents.

However, the prosecution would point out that Dr. Butler had apparently lied about the missing Bubonic Plague vials saying they were stolen. Then turned around and admitted to destroying the vials himself after reviewing the FBI's investigation. FBI agents testified in court Thursday that confession was written on a piece of paper and signed Butler.

The defense claims that was an influenced statement.

Regardless, Judge Cummings said Butler's confession can be used against him in federal court.

Supporters of Butler upset with the decision. "I think the FBI is barking up the wrong tree. I think they're trying to prosecute someone who's done nothing but take care of patients. This is like a train. When it gets going, you can't stop it. Now, this has all become a circus," said Sharie Patty, long time friend of Butler.

Butler and his family had no comment.

Butler is still on paid leave at the Health Sciences Center, with an annual salary of more than $200,000.

He's not allowed to step foot at the HSC and we're told, the board of regents is in the middle of a complete dismissal process. The trial is set to begin in early November.

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