By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Kevin Curtis’ attorney on Monday said that with nothing linking the poison ricin and her client, federal prosecutors should dismiss the charges.
“The searches are concluded; not one single shred of evidence was found to indicate Kevin could have done this,” said Christi R. McCoy after an Oxford federal courthouse hearing.
Curtis, 45, of Corinth was arrested by federal agents last Wednesday, accused of mailing at least three poison-laden letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Curtis’ defense said he should be released after the government’s failure to find any ricin during extensive weekend searches of his house, vehicle and his ex-wife’s house.
U.S. Magistrate S. Allen Alexander cut short the second day of the hearing, citing a personal schedule conflict.
The hearing resumes at 9 a.m. today for Alexander to determine if sufficient evidence exists to send the case to a grand jury. She also is due to consider Curtis’ bail. He’s been held in the Lafayette County Detention Center since his arrest.
During the Monday morning session, McCoy repeatedly pressed FBI agent Brandon Grant to tell the court what direct evidence investigators found to link Curtis to the letter scheme.
No traces of ricin, no fingerprints on envelopes, nothing except verbiage from social media sites, which McCoy said anyone could have copied to frame him.
She suggested prosecutors take a look at Tupelo martial arts instructor J. Everett Dutschke, with whom she claims in 2010 Curtis had a heated email correspondence, so much so that Curtis’ parents warned Dutschke to back off.
Later Monday, Dutschke insisted he had nothing to do with a ricin-letter plot.
“I categorically deny it,” he told the Daily Journal a few hours after the hearing recessed.
“I met the guy on two occasions,” Dutschke said in a telephone conversation about Curtis. “I wasn’t going to be pulled into his fantasy world.”
He did, however, admit he met with the FBI last Thursday, saying he gave agents permission to search his home.
In 2007, Dutschke was a Republican candidate for the Mississippi House of Representatives against incumbent Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville, the son of Judge Sadie Holland.
Dutschke said he had worked with Curtis’ brother, Jack, but not with Kevin.
“He almost had my sympathy,” Dutschke said, alluding to his own legal problems with three Lee County indictments against him on fondling charges.
He also admitted to what he termed a brief confrontation with Curtis in 2010, claiming Curtis posted a Mensa certificate on his MySpace site. Dutschke said it was a fraud and ultimately was removed.
Mensa is an elite organization for ultra-intelligent people. Dutschke claimed to be a member and insisted Curtis was not.
How long today’s hearing will run isn’t known, but Alexander seemed restless to come to some conclusion soon.
Grant still will be on the stand when the hearing resumes.
“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.
While he suggested that Curtis could have thrown away the processor, Grant said technicians are looking more deeply into Curtis’ computers after initially finding nothing to indicate Curtis had searched for information on ricin.
McCoy, who leads the defense with attorney Hal Neilson, said the government doesn’t have probable cause to hold her client, and his history of problems related to bipolar disorder are not enough to keep him in jail.
Today, prosecutors could call Tupelo attorney David Daniels and even a Chicago, Ill., man with some knowledge about a years-ago incident involving Curtis.
Daniels, a former assistant district attorney, had an altercation with Curtis in 2003. Judge Holland later granted Daniels a restraining order against Curtis and found Curtis guilty of simple assault.