New indictment filed in US ricin letters case
JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — A man charged with sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other officials has been charged with trying for a second time to frame the man first arrested in the case — an Elvis impersonator.
James Everett Dutschke has been jailed since April on charges of sending ricin-tainted letters to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge, Sadie Holland.
The new indictment says Dutschke, while incarcerated, tried to recruit someone to make more ricin and send it to Wicker.
The indictment filed in court says Dutschke, 42, was again trying to frame Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis, the same man he’s accused of trying to set up the first time.
Curtis was arrested on charges of sending the letters in April, but the charges were dropped when the investigation shifted to Dutschke. Curtis says the men have feuded for years.
Dutschke’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a phone message at his office Thursday.
Authorities first focused on Curtis because the letters contained statements that he had often used on his Facebook page, including the line, “I am KC and I approve this message.” The letters also contained the phrase “Missing Pieces,” the same title as an unpublished book Curtis wrote about his belief that there’s a black market for body parts in the United States.
The new indictment, dated Wednesday, said Dutschke also wanted a message in the subsequent letter: “It doesn’t matter the Fife types have the wrong one. D. had to be sacrificed to show the corruption in the system. I tried to warn you. Ha. K.”
“Wow,” said Curtis’ lawyer, Christi McCoy in a telephone interview Thursday.
“I’m glad he’s in jail because that’s where he needs to be. He’s a threat to a lot of people,” McCoy said.
Dutschke is a former martial arts instructor in the north Mississippi town of Tupelo, Elvis’ birthplace. He has pleaded not guilty to the original five counts and denies sending the letters. The new indictment adds another count. He faces up to life in prison, if convicted of the most serious charge, the production of a biological weapon. He’s being held without bond. His trial is scheduled for May 27.
Curtis has filed a defamation lawsuit against Dutschke that seeks damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
Holland, the judge, was the only intended recipient to receive a letter, though she was not harmed. The others were intercepted before reaching Obama or Wicker.
In 2007, Dutschke ran in an election against Democratic state Rep. Steve Holland, the judge’s son.
Authorities say a dust mask Dutschke removed from his martial arts studio and dumped in a nearby trash can tested positive for ricin. Investigators also say he used the Internet to buy castor beans, from which ricin is derived, and researched how to make the poison.
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