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Dutschke Pleads Guilty to Sending Ricin Letters to President, Senator Wicker

By Sandra Knispel | Published 19 Jan 2014 11:58pm | comments
James Everett Dutschke pleads guilty Friday during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss. Photo: Associated Press

The Tupelo man who pleaded guilty to sending poison-laced letters to the President and two others could be facing 25 years in prison. His legal problems may be far from over.

James Everett Dutschke, who pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to four counts of producing the poison ricin from castor beans and then sending ricin-laced letters to the U.S. President, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker, and County Judge Sadie Holland is waiting to hear if the judge accepts the prosecution’s recommendation of a 25-year sentence. Ken Coghlan who represents Dutschke in the federal case, says the prosecution’s recommendation is a compromise plea that will include time for a separate state case, which involves three counts of fondling a minor.

“It resolved the federal case and the state case. It was also a compromise in that – depending on whose experts you believe and whether this substance was toxic or not… it’s the difference of a life sentence and a sentence that would have been less than 25 years," Coghlan said. "So this was, you know, right in the middle. I think it was a fair and good result.”

But more legal trouble may be coming Dutschke’s way. The 42-year-old former martial arts instructor from Tupelo originally devised the ricin scheme in order to land a personal enemy in prison. At first his plan worked, when Tupelo-based Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis was falsely charged with the crime and imprisoned until the case against him began to crumble. Christy McCoy represents Kevin Curtis, the man framed by Dutschke.

"You know there’s still people out there who for whatever reason believe that Kevin had some involvement in these attacks and it’s been tough for him. He has four children and it’s been tough for them.”

While Curtis’s attorney is choosing her words carefully, it’s clear that she’s looking at the evidence with a possible civil suit in mind.

“I think the whole world knows he didn’t do it but it will be nice for the prosecution to acknowledge openly that he did not do this. And then we’ll see where this goes from there as far as civil – any type of civil suit.”

Now it’s up to U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock to decide if she’ll accept the prosecution’s recommendation. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Dutschke's sentence can be expected in about 60 days.

Sandra Knispel MPB News Oxford





James Everett Dutschke pleads guilty Friday during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss. Photo: Associated Press



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