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Ricin suspect released from jail; Tupelo home of another man searched

Maps

Updated: April 23, 2013 5:28PM



TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi man charged with sending poisoned letters to President Barack Obama and others was released from jail Tuesday without explanation, while FBI agents returned to another man’s house where they’d previously searched in connection with the case.

Everett Dutschke said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the FBI was at his home Tuesday for a search related to the mailing of the poisoned letters to Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. Dutschke said his house was also searched last week.

Dutschke has maintained his innocence and says he doesn’t know anything about the ingredients for ricin. He said agents asked him questions about suspect Paul Kevin Curtis but also asked him if he would take a lie detector test and whether he had ever bought castor beans, which can be used to make the potent poison.

“I’m a patriotic American. I don’t have any grudges against anybody. I did not send the letters,” Dutschke said.

Outside his house, numerous law enforcement officers from several agencies were seen along with a mobile crime lab.

Earlier Tuesday, Curtis was released from custody, though authorities didn’t explain why. His attorney has said he’s innocent and may have been framed.

Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Oxford, Miss., said Curtis was released from custody but that he doesn’t know if there were any conditions on the release.

Defense 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 to discuss the case.

Curtis was arrested last Wednesday at his house in Corinth, Miss., and charged with sending the ricin-laced letters, the first of which was found April 15.

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.

A day earlier, FBI Agent Brandon Grant testified searches on Friday 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. Authorities produced no other physical evidence tying Curtis to the letters at the hearings.

“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.

Through McCoy, Curtis has denied involvement in the letters.

“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 Monday.

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Associated Press writers Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Miss., and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.



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