Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 22, 2013

Hearing to continue Monday in ricin letter case

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The man charged with mailing ricin-laced letters to the president and a senator was expected back in court Monday, and the hearing could reveal what evidence authorities have collected from searches of his home and vehicle.

Through his lawyer, Paul Kevin Curtis has denied any involvement in the letters sent to President Barack Obama and Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, as well as a third letter sent to a Lee County, Miss., judge.

A detention and preliminary hearing began Friday in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss., but was continued when it ran into the evening.

In the hearing, Curtis' lawyer, Christi McCoy, tried to show that authorities had collected little physical evidence.

FBI agent Brandon Grant testified late Friday that searches of Curtis' home and car had not been completed. He also said other tests, such as DNA analysis, were pending.

Prosecutors had wanted to delay the hearing, but McCoy objected, saying her client shouldn't have to stay in jail over the weekend if there wasn't enough evidence to hold him.

U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander continued the hearing when it ran into the evening and attorneys said it could go on for hours.

After the hearing, Curtis' attorney said the federal government had produced little physical evidence to link her client to the crime.

She is likely to ask during Monday's hearing exactly what the searches uncovered over the weekend.

"He is adamant that he did not do this," McCoy said Friday. She said her client has never been in possession of ricin and doesn't know how to make it.

"I have not seen anything to the contrary, so I have to accept what he is saying as the truth," McCoy said.

Grant testified Friday that authorities tried to track down the sender of the letters by using a list of Wicker's constituents with the initials KC, the same initials in the letters. Grant said the list was whittled from thousands to about 100 when investigators isolated the ones who lived in an area that would have a Memphis, Tenn., postmark, as do some places in north Mississippi. He said Wicker's staff recognized Curtis' name as someone who had written the senator before.

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