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After his preliminary hearing on Thursday morning, James Everett Dutschke will next go before a federal grand jury on charges that he sent ricin-laced letters to elected officials, including Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
According to local news reports, Dutschke’s attorney waived the detention hearing portion of Thursday’s judicial proceedings at an Oxford, Miss., courthouse. This means his client will remain in custody until his appearance before the grand jury, a date which has not yet been set.
If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.
Dutschke, who was arrested on April 27, is the second suspect apprehended in the investigation surrounding the discovery of contaminated envelopes addressed to Wicker, President Barack Obama and Lee County Judge Sadie Holland.
The first person arrested was Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss., an Elvis impersonator who had a history of corresponding with Wicker and believed he was being targeted for uncovering a conspiracy to sell body parts on the black market. Law enforcement officials failed to find ricin or evidence that he ever sought to make or procure the poisonous substance, however, and Curtis was released on April 23, less than a week after his arrest.
Authorities now believe Dutschke, a Tupelo, Miss., resident and martial arts studio proprietor, might have framed Curtis. The two men have an adversarial relationship that has played out publicly on the Internet, with Dutschke threatening to sue Curtis for faking his Mensa membership and boasting that his band would throw Curtis’ musical endeavors “off the national circuit.”
According to the sworn affidavit of FBI Special Agent Stephen E. Thomason, federal agents uncovered traces of ricin on belongings they had seen Dutschke discard into garbage receptacles through the window of his car, and in the two Tupelo taekwondo studios he used to operate.
Agents also found records showing that Dutschke had gone on eBay to purchase castor beans, the source material for ricin, which can be deadly when inhaled or injected.