Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 23, 2013

Hearing to focus on ricin suspect's mental state

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The third day of a hearing for the Mississippi man accused of mailing poisoned letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a local judge was expected to include testimony on his mental state after authorities acknowledged they have found little physical evidence so far.

Christi McCoy, defense attorney for Paul Kevin Curtis, said Tuesday's hearing was expected to include testimony from David Daniels, a Tupelo, Miss., attorney who says Curtis threatened him after a rehearsal for an Elvis impersonators' show Daniels helped organize in 2002. Also, a law enforcement official was expected to testify about Curtis' suicide attempt in Chicago in 1991.

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. Grant said technicians are now doing a "deep dive" on the suspect's computers after initially finding no "dirty words" indicating Curtis had searched for information on ricin.

McCoy has insisted there is no physical evidence connecting Curtis to the mailings and that he may have been framed.

Through McCoy, Curtis has denied involvement in letters sent to Obama, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, and a Lee County, Miss., judge. The first of the letters was found April 15.

"The searches are concluded, not one single shred of evidence was found to indicate Kevin could have done this," McCoy told reporters after the hearing.

U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Allan Alexander ended the hearing after lunch Monday, citing a personal schedule conflict. After the hearing concluded, McCoy questioned why Curtis would have signed the letters "I am KC and I approve this message," a phrase he had used on his Facebook page.

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