Nearly three weeks into the Butler trial, the prosecution finally rested its case yesterday. Today was the first full day of testimony on behalf of the defense, and among those taking the stand today was Dr. Thomas Butler himself.
Dr. Butler took the stand just after 11am and when the court adjourned five hours later he was still on the stand. His opening response to the first question was, "I am not guilty of any of the charges in the indictment."
The Texas Tech researcher testified he did nothing wrong and cooperated entirely during the bio terrorism scare that's blamed on him. Butler explained what happened in his own words to a federal grand jury for the first time, taking them step by step through the process that started with him as a witness, but led to him as the suspect. He recounted the round of questioning that resulted in the plague going from missing to destroyed. According to Butler, that came about when Agent Dale Green told him, after a thorough investigation we think the vials must have been accidentally destroyed.
"I was puzzled. I knew I didn't accidentally destroy the vials," said Butler.
The agent went on to say they had eliminated all other possibilities, there was no forced entry, had questioned everyone with access to the lab, no suspicious persons were reported....therefore there was no other solution. Butler said, that's when Green tried to convince him that maybe he destroyed the vials. Butler said that Agent Green told him, "If you're able to recall this for me, give me a statement and I'll be on your side. We'll both walk out of here and no one will be arrested."
Butler said he and Agent Green worked on the wording of a written statement together admitting he'd accidentally destroyed the vials, then two hours later Butler was arrested.
The trial continues tomorrow with Butler on the stand.