Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 23, 2013

Ricin suspect released from jail

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi man charged with sending poisoned letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a state judge was released from jail on Tuesday, federal official said, though the reason for the release wasn't immediately clear.

Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Oxford, Miss., said Paul Kevin Curtis has been released from custody. Woodfin said he doesn't know if there were any conditions on the release.

The development comes hours after officials canceled a detention and preliminary hearing without explaining the reason for the change.

His lawyer Christi McCoy, who has been pushing for the charges to be dropped, said in a text message Tuesday that she could only confirm that her client has been released.

"I can tell you he is with his family," McCoy said.

McCoy has said that there is a news conference scheduled for 5 p.m. CDT with federal authorities and defense attorneys.

Curtis was arrested last Wednesday at his house in Corinth, Miss., and charged with sending ricin-laced letters to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and a Lee County, Miss., judge.

Tuesday's hearing in federal court was canceled about 90 minutes after it was supposed to begin. Lawyers spent that time conferring with the judge. Later, Curtis and family members were escorted into a meeting room with his lawyers, followed by a probation officer.

On Monday, FBI Agent Brandon Grant testified that Friday searches of Curtis' vehicle and house in Corinth, Miss., found no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it. A search of Curtis' computers found no evidence he researched making ricin.

"There was no apparent ricin, castor beans or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something," Grant testified. He speculated that Curtis could have thrown away the processor.

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