| TUPELO, Miss.
TUPELO, Miss. May 2 A federal judge ruled on
Thursday that there was enough evidence for a grand jury to
consider indicting a Mississippi man accused of mailing
poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other U.S.
officials, a Mississippi newspaper reported.
James Everett Dutschke, a 41-year-old martial arts
instructor from Tupelo, Miss., was arrested on April 27 and
charged with developing and possessing the deadly poison ricin
and attempting to use it as a weapon.
U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander said he agreed with
prosecutors that evidence against Dutschke justified referring
the charges to a grand jury to consider whether he should stand
trial, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
During a preliminary hearing in Oxford, the judge also ruled
that Dutschke continue to be held without bond.
Dutschke has denied any connection with the letters sent
last month to Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi
and a Mississippi judge. The letters to Obama and Wicker were
intercepted before reaching their intended recipients.
Authorities have not said whether the ricin, which is made
from castor beans, was strong enough to harm anyone.
In an affidavit unsealed on Tuesday, FBI investigators said
a dust mask and other items seized from a former taekwondo
studio used by Dutschke tested positive for ricin. Agents
described witnessing Dutschke enter the studio and remove
several items and later throw them in a nearby trash container,
according to the affidavit.
Traces of ricin were also discovered on other items found at
the studio, including liquid removed from a drain and a filter
containing items vacuumed from the studio floor, according to
FBI agents also said they found evidence that he made two
purchases each of 50 red castor beans in November and December
of 2012 using a PayPal account on eBay and downloaded
manuals on a laptop computer detailing how to handle and store
the poison, according to the affidavit.
FBI Special Agent Stephen Thomason, who prepared the
affidavit and was the sole witness during the hearing on
Thursday, told the court that evidence of a third purchase had
been found and a new search warrant had been issued for another
location tied to Dutschke, the Daily Journal said.
If convicted, Dutschke faces a maximum sentence of life in
prison. His attorney, public defender George Lucas, could not be
immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
Dutschke was arrested after U.S. prosecutors dropped charges
in the case against another Mississippi man, Kevin Curtis, an
Elvis impersonator who was released from jail after a search of
his home failed turn up any evidence of his involvement.
Dutschke's name surfaced when Curtis' attorney suggested in
a court hearing that Curtis had been framed and mentioned a
running feud between the two men.
Dutschke also faces child-molestation charges in a separate
case involving three girls under the age of 16, according to
He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for a seat in
Mississippi's House of Representatives in 2007.