By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – Prosecutors said they will ask the court to set a pre-trial hearing on sexual fondling charges against J. Everett Dutschke.
Dutschke, a 42-year-old former Tupelo martial arts instructor, is in federal custody in Oxford charged with masterminding a scheme to mail ricin-laden letters to President Barack Obama and other elected officials, as well as attempting to frame another man for the crimes.
He has pleaded not guilty to both federal and local charges.
Monday, Assistant District Attorney Sadie Gardner told Judge Paul Funderburk the state is discussing its Dutschke cases with the U.S. attorney’s office, which has jurisdiction in the poison-letter scheme.
Dutschke’s case on the fondling charges is set for action during the November term of circuit court in Lee County.
However, Gardner said the DA’s office will ask the court for some dates to hold a hearing to allow pre-trial testimony from Dutschke’s alleged victims.
Funderburk told her to try to schedule the hearings before the year’s end.
Dutschke was indicted last May and accused of fondling three female students under the ages of 16. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison on each charge and must register as a sex offender.
He was free on bond when he was accused in the poison-mail scheme. No trial date is set in the federal case, after his attorney asked for more time to prepare. He remains in custody without bond.