Mississippi man charged in ricin case expected to appear in court

Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-28 20:32:24-04

By CNN Staff

(CNN) — A Tupelo, Mississippi, man accused of sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and others is expected to appear in court on Monday.

James Everett Dutschke, 41, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Oxford before Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander, according to a statement released by the U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Mississippi.

It’s not clear exactly when on Monday he will appear. Dutschke’s attorney, Lori Basham, could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday night.

Dutschke has been charged with possession and use of a biological agent as a weapon in connection with an investigation into the letters sent to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and Sadie Holland, a judge in Lee County.

Ricin is a deadly toxin derived from castor beans that has no known antidote. No illnesses were reported.

Last week, agents searched Dutschke’s residence and former martial arts studio.

At the time, Dutschke told CNN affiliate WMC-TV that he agreed to the FBI search “to help clear my name.”

“I had absolutely nothing to do with those letters,” he said.

Dutschke was arrested without incident at his home early Saturday.

His arrest was the latest twist in the bizarre case that began earlier this month when federal investigators arrested Paul Kevin Curtis, an Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Mississippi, for allegedly sending the ricin-laced letters.

Amid his claims that he was framed, Curtis was later cleared.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” he told CNN on Sunday. He said when he heard the news that Dutschke had been arrested, he took a deep breath and felt like “a weight had been taken off.”

“I just want to return to my kids and my music,” Curtis said.

He and Dutschke have various ties, and each has accused the other of bad behavior.

Dutschke used to work for Curtis’ brother at an insurance company, under the direction of Curtis’ ex-wife, according to Curtis.

Curtis has said that while Dutschke worked for his brother, the two talked about collaborating on the publication of a book but later had a falling out.

He has accused Dutschke of stalking him online, a claim the former tae kwon do instructor has denied.

Dutschke told reporters last week that he did not know Curtis well.

“He’s just a little nutty. I don’t have a relationship with him,” he said.

Authorities have not said how they linked the letters to Dutschke, who appears to have personal connections to at least two of the three people who were sent letters.

In 2007, Dutschke failed in his bid as a Republican to defeat Democratic state representative Steve Holland, whose mother, a judge, received one of the ricin-tainted letters.

Dutschke also has said he met Wicker.

Meanwhile, he faces molestation charges in an unrelated case.

According to a grand jury indictment handed up this month and obtained by CNN, Dutschke is accused of molesting three girls under the age of 16. He has repeatedly denied the charges in interviews with local media and pleaded not guilty in court this month.

Dutschke closed his tae kwon do studio after the allegations were made public.

Rich Phillips and Alina Machado reported from Booneville, Mississippi; Dana Ford wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Vivian Kuo and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

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