ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Computer software pioneer John McAfee said on Wednesday he will testify willingly about the murder of his American neighbor in Belize last year, as he seeks to defend himself from a wrongful death lawsuit that blames him for the killing.
McAfee, 68, was named by police in Belize as a person of interest in the November 11, 2012, shooting of Gregory Faull, but he fled the small Central American country before he could be questioned.
McAfee denies involvement in the death of Faull, an Orlando contractor and restaurant owner. But he told Reuters in a telephone interview he would not fight a subpoena for deposition in the lawsuit.
“Of course not, because the deposition will be here in America. I’ve told the police in Belize that I will sit for questioning in any neutral country in the world ... I just will not go to Belize,” McAfee said.
The lawsuit, which was filed Friday by Faull’s estate in U.S. District Court in Orlando, accuses McAfee of shooting Faull in the head or having him shot.
The lawsuit also names two of McAfee’s former girlfriends, Samantha Vanegas and Amy Herbert, describing them as McAfee’s possible agents in the killing.
The estate is seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $75,000 on behalf of Faull’s 26-year-old daughter.
“While continuing to grieve, the Faull family intends to pursue all possible avenues to ensure the individual or individuals responsible for the death of Gregory Faull are brought to justice. They are confident that with the tools available in civil discovery cases in the U.S. federal courts and with the information obtained in the criminal investigation in Belize, the true facts will come to light as to how and by whom Gregory Faull met his end,” wrote West Palm Beach lawyer Gary Roberts in a statement provided to Reuters on behalf of the family.
McAfee, who now lives in Portland, Oregon, also told Reuters he will file a counter-claim against Faull’s estate for defamation of character and personal injury.
Faull was found dead in his home on Ambergrise Caye, the largest island in Belize. Residents of the island, where McAfee had lived for about four years, said McAfee and Faull, 52, had quarreled at times, including over McAfee’s unruly dogs.
McAfee, who had previous encounters with Belize authorities and claimed to be in fear of them, sneaked illegally into Guatemala and went into hiding after the murder.
The eccentric tech pioneer, who made his fortune from the anti-virus software bearing his name, was arrested on immigration charges after being found in Guatemala. But appeals from his lawyers blocked his deportation to Belize and he eventually returned to the United States.
McAfee told Reuters he is protected at all times by a security team for fear of being kidnapped and returned to Belize.
“The Belize police have continued to say there is no evidence whatsoever linking Mr. McAfee to the death of Mr. Faull. That has been their consistent statement from day one. So there is no legal basis for them getting me back. Now kidnapping, of course I‘m concerned about that,” McAfee said.
Separately, in October, McAfee claimed that members of a congressional committee tried to get him to help fix the troubled Affordable Care Act software that is preventing thousands of Americans from signing up for new health insurance. But because of the government shutdown, McAfee said, the committee could neither pay him nor pay for his travel to Washington.
Editing by Tom Brown and Ken Wills