Sentencing in Mississippi poison-letters case

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Associated Press

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 8:32 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 13 at 9:05 AM

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who pleaded guilty to making ricin and sending letters laced with the poison to President Barack Obama and other officials will be sentenced Tuesday in federal court.

James Everett Dutschke (DUHS'-kee) pleaded guilty in January to sending the tainted letters to Obama as well as Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Mississippi judge Sadie Holland.

Prosecutors have recommended a 25-year sentence. It could run concurrently with the recommended 20-year sentence Dutschke faces in state court, where he pleaded guilty to unrelated fondling charges.

Poisoned letters addressed to Obama and Wicker were intercepted before delivery, but one letter reached Holland. She was not harmed.

Prosecutors said Dutschke, 42, tried to frame entertainer Paul Kevin Curtis, who was originally arrested in the case.

The letters contained statements that Curtis had often used on his Facebook page, including the line, "I am KC and I approve this message." The letters also contained the phrase "Missing Pieces," the same title as an unpublished book Curtis wrote about his belief that a black market for body parts exists in the United States.

Charges against Curtis were dropped when the investigation shifted to Dutschke. Curtis said the men have feuded for years.

Before pleading guilty in the federal ricin case, Dutschke had denied sending the letters. He also denied a charge filed in November that, while incarcerated, he tried to recruit someone else to send a ricin-tainted letter.

Dutschke is a former martial arts instructor in the north Mississippi town of Tupelo. He had also run unsuccessfully for public office, including for a state legislative seat in which he challenged the son of the state court judge who received one of the letters.

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