Thomas Butler Trial: How Do You Label A Hazardous Package? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/12/03

Thomas Butler Trial: How Do You Label A Hazardous Package?

After a Veterans Day recess, the trial of Dr. Thomas Butler resumed in a Lubbock Federal Courtroom on Wednesday. At issue, whether or not Dr. Butler properly labeled the potentially deadly bacteria samples as he shipped them to Tanzania.

The former Texas Tech researcher is accused of 69 felony crimes including smuggling, fraud and lying to federal agents. The charges are in response to a national bio-terrorism scare that began when Dr. Butler reported 30 vials of bubonic plague bacteria missing.

Wednesday, a Department of Commerce investigator testified for the prosecution, saying that if Butler had labeled his package to Tanzania properly, FedEx would never have shipped it in the first place. But the defense maintains that considering the possibility of terrorism, Butler would not want to attract attention to what was in the package.

Also taking the stand Wednesday, Elmo Cavin, President of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. Cavin testified that according to policy, all payment for research is required to be made payable to the university. But the defense stated that the policy was "vague," and eluded to the possibility of Health Science Center employees accepting payment directly.

Dr. David Smith was also called to the stand late Wednesday afternoon.

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