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Curtis says ricin poisoning accusations still sting him

 

Jeff Amy/The Associated Press

 

OXFORD -- More than a year after Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested and then abruptly turned loose on charges of sending poisoned letters to the president, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge, he says he just wants to return to being an entertainer. 

 

But the singer and celebrity impersonator says he still faces daily harassment. 

 

"I've had a lot of stalkers," he said. "I've had my tires slashed. I've had my car keyed." 

 

Curtis was planning to return to the stage Thursday night in Oxford to raise money for a documentary film about the case, titled "I Didn't Do It." 

 

Four blocks from the downtown theater where Curtis will perform, the man whom authorities think did do it -- James Everett Dutschke of Tupelo -- sits in the Lafayette County jail. 

 

Dutschke pleaded guilty in a case that prosecutors say centered on framing Curtis, with whom he had feuded. Now, Dutschke wants to withdraw the plea, again accusing Curtis of being the perpetrator. In court Tuesday in Aberdeen, Mississippi, Dutschke suggested that all the evidence in the case points to Curtis, whom he ridiculed by likening him to "Barney the purple dinosaur." Dutschke said Curtis isn't "capable of tying his own shoes." 

 

Wednesday, Curtis said that taint still hangs over his life. 

 

"There is no obscurity after you've gone international and been framed in a presidential assassination plot by a karate instructor who works for your brother," he said Wednesday during an interview in Oxford. 

 

Curtis said he once worked steadily as a musician, impersonating Elvis and others. 

 

"My phone hasn't rung for music once," Curtis said. "Everywhere I go, there's been this sort of prejudgment upon me." 

 

Curtis is suing Dutschke in state court, and is seeking permission to sue the federal government for falsely arresting him. 

 

"There's been no press conference to say 'This man is innocent, he did not do it,'" Curtis said. 

 

That cloud hangs over not only his professional career, but his personal life. For example, Curtis said, someone keeps jamming his mailbox at a Corinth housing development. 

 

He also said that the aftermath of the case has harmed his family relationships, and that his children have been taunted at school. 

 

"It has destroyed my family," he said. "My brother and I, we don't talk. My brother and my mother, they don't talk." 

 

The filmmakers working with Curtis say that beyond telling the bizarre, intertwined story, their film also will raise questions about what happens when federal law enforcement crashes down on an innocent man. 

 

Producers are struggling to raise $50,000 to finance the film. The concert is meant as a boost, both to the film and for Curtis, who was looking forward Wednesday to singing for an audience. 

 

"I'm excited about this show," he said. "I think the show is going to turn a lot of things around."

 

 

 

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