Anthrax widow questions Ivins' guilt

The widow of a Florida tabloid photo editor who died as a result of the 2001 anthrax mailings has cast doubt on the FBI’s conclusion that scientist Bruce Ivins staged the attacks.

Maureen Stevens changed her position based on sworn statements by the scientists’ superiors who said they don’t believe Ivins was solely to blame for the attacks, the Washington Post reports. New documents were filed in Steven’s lawsuit against the government for the responsibility of her husband Robert Stevens’ death.

The Justice Department formally closed the anthrax investigation on Feb. 19, 2010, after it had pinned the crimes on Ivins. Ivins died in 2008 from a Tylenol overdose as the investigation closed in.

The statements that changed Stevens’ mind were made in depositions earlier this year by Gerard Andrew and W. Russell Byrne who oversaw the work of Ivins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Byrne said the Ivins he knew was incapable of the crimes while Andrews said it would have taken Ivins much more time, expertise and equipment to have taken part in the attacks, according to the Washington Post. After obtaining the statements, Stevens’ lawyers successfully argued before a federal judge that Stevens be allowed to withdraw from her previous agreement with U.S. lawyers that Ivins was solely to blame. This allowed her attorneys to use the new evidence at trial. The federal government lawyers didn’t object and her motion was granted April 14.

Stevens’ lawsuit, originally filed in 2003, sought as much as $50 million in damages, accusing the U.S. government. The trial is scheduled for Dec. 5.