Poison-letters suspect faces detention hearing

May 2, 2013 10:18:45 AM

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JACKSON -- The first time James Everett Dutshcke's name came up in court regarding ricin-laced letters sent to President Barack Obama and others, he wasn't the man charged in the case. And it was a defense lawyer for the first man to fall under suspicion, not the government, pointing the finger at Dutschke. 

 

That was last month, after a 45-year-old Elvis impersonator Kevin Curtis was arrested in the case and swore he had no knowledge of the letters. He told investigators Dutschke, a longtime foe, may be behind them. 

 

Arrested April 17, Curtis was released after six days in custody. Dutschke, a former martial arts instructor, is now under arrest in the case in which ricin was sent to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. 

 

Today, Dutschke was scheduled to face his preliminary and detention hearings at the same time in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss. Prosecutors were expected to urge he be held without bond on arguments that he poses a danger and a flight risk, as they did during his initial appearance Monday. 

 

Dutschke has denied any involvement. His lawyer, George Lucas, declined comment. 

 

On April 19, investigators searched Curtis' home and found no evidence of ricin. The same day, the FBI interviewed a witness who said Dutschke had made comments years ago about knowing how to manufacture poison that could be sent to elected officials and "whoever opened these envelopes containing the poison would die," according an FBI affidavit. 

 

While FBI agents were checking into Dutschke that Friday, federal prosecutors were in court asking a judge to hold Curtis without bond. But Curtis' attorney, Christi McCoy, argued that federal authorities had no reason to hold him. The hearing resumed Monday, and that's when McCoy first introduced Dutschke's name in court as someone who may have sent the letters. 

 

That same day, FBI agents saw Dutschke enter his former Taekwondo studio and remove several items, which he threw in a trash can nearby, according to the FBI affidavit.