FBI Agents Testify in Butler Trial - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/10/03

FBI Agents Testify in Butler Trial

On Monday Agent Miles Burden was one of two F-B-I agents to testify in the Lubbock federal trial of Doctor Thomas Butler. Burden testified that at one point he feared a Texas Tech professor was growing plague bacteria "like a farmer grows hothouse tomatoes."

The FBI says Butler later admitted he accidentally destroyed the vials. Burden also said another agent had spoken with Butler's wife, who said her husband was dissatisfied with the university and wasn't receiving the recognition he deserved. Burden says Butler's wife told the agent Butler "believed that the people at Texas Tech were trying to sabotage him."

Butler faces 69 charges during his federal trial in Lubbock over a January bioterrorism scare. He's accused of smuggling plague samples from Tanzania in 2002 and illegally transporting the items in the U.S. and overseas. Other charges include lying to the FBI, theft, embezzlement and fraud. Meanwhile, Agent Shannon Fish also says Doctor Thomas Butler confessed to destroying plague bacteria samples only after being told that's what investigators concluded must have been what happened.

Fish says Butler told him he last remembered seeing the vials January 3rd or 4th. Testimony indicated Butler didn't notice that the vials were missing until January 11th, one day before he wrote in his lab notebook, quote: "Can't explain other than intentional removal, suspect theft."

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