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The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Plagued by Fear

March 26 – April 1, 2006

[Excerpt of Mr. Snipes’ closing statement in seven-part series regarding the 2003 trial of Dr. Thomas Butler, Texas Tech scientist convicted in bubonic plague case.]

The Verdict Is In

The long procession of witnesses was over, the torrent of evidence spent. After 13 days, all that was left were the closing arguments, the final battle for the jury's soul.

"He lied to you about everything," prosecutor Michael Snipes began, immediately going for the throat. "He basically lies all the time." Butler's family, his international reputation, "he blew it all because he's greedy, because he had to have all the money, and because he simply would not listen to what anybody told him to do.

"There's an old saying they teach you at West Point," said Snipes, a graduate of the military academy and a veteran Army lawyer. "When you've done something wrong, you say, 'No excuse sir.' This defendant is incapable of taking responsibility for anything. 'I'm above the law. I'm Thomas Butler.' We cannot have that in this country, ladies and gentlemen. The result of that is anarchy and chaos."

Snipes compared Butler to the Tartar army, whose catapulting of plague-infested bodies into their rivals' midst was the first recorded bioterror attack.

"On Jan. 14, 2003, he scared this town half to death and made sure the president of the United States knew about his stolen bubonic plague. Do not let this greedy man get away with this for one more moment! Do what no one else has been able to do, nobody else! Stop him dead in his tracks! Find him guilty!"

Link below for complete seven-part series:
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