Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 29, 2013

Hearing for Miss. man in suspicious letters case

BRANDON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who describes himself as a patriot with no grudges against anyone was expected to appear in court Monday on charges of making and possessing ricin, part of the investigation into poison-laced letters sent to President Barack Obama and others.

The arrest of 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke early Saturday capped a week in which investigators initially zeroed in on a rival of Dutschke's, then decided they had the wrong man. The hunt for a suspect revealed ties between the two men and an 80-year-old county judge who, along with Obama and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, was among the targets of the letters.

Dutschke's house, business and vehicles in Tupelo, Miss., were searched earlier in the week, often by crews in hazardous materials suits, and he had been under surveillance.

Dutschke (pronounced DUHS'-kee) was charged with "knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon, to wit: ricin." U.S. attorney Felicia Adams and Daniel McMullen, the FBI agent in charge in Mississippi, made the announcement in a news release.

Dutschke's attorney, Lori Nail Basham, said she had no comment on the arrest at his Tupelo home, but earlier had said Dutschke was cooperating fully with investigators and insisted he had nothing to do with the letters. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

He already had legal problems. Earlier this month, he pleaded not guilty in state court to two child molestation charges involving three girls younger than 16. He also was appealing a conviction on a different charge of indecent exposure. He told The Associated Press last week that his lawyer told him not to comment on those cases.

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