By JB Clark
ABERDEEN – Less than a week after dramatically stating his intent to withdraw his plea of guilty to charges of making and mailing ricin to elected officials, James Everett Dutschke on Monday reaffirmed that plea.
U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock then sentenced him to 25 years in federal prison.
During a sentencing hearing last Tuesday, Dutschke asserted many things contrary to his guilty plea, among them that Kevin Curtis – the man originally charged with mailing the ricin-laced letters – framed him as the person who framed Curtis.
Dutschke also claimed that the substance found in the envelopes mailed to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland wasn’t poisonous and that he didn’t mail the letters himself.
After Dutschke made those claims in his pre-sentencing statement last week, Aycock asked him to speak with his attorney, Ken Coghlan, and consider if he would continue with his guilty plea or make a motion to withdraw the plea. Dutschke eventually stated his intention to file a formal withdrawal of his previous guilty plea.
At the beginning of Monday’s sentencing hearing, Coghlan told Aycock that Dutschke had made no formal request for a motion to withdraw the guilty plea, and on Friday, Dutschke, through his attorney, asked the court if he could reaffirm his guilty plea and be sentenced.
Before being sentenced Monday, Dutschke was asked by Aycock if he would like to speak on the record.
“I think it would be best if I don’t,” said a much more restrained Dutschke, before laughing.
Dutschke’s guilty plea in January was a part of plea agreement in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office would ask he be sentenced to 25 years in prison instead of the possible maximum of a life sentence that the charges carry.
After he serves his sentence, Dutschke will be under supervised release for five years.
Two charges that allege Dutschke tried to mail ricin letters or have ricin letters mailed from jail were dropped as a part of the plea agreement.
He was ordered to pay a $100 special assessment for each of the four counts to which he pleaded guilty.
Dutschke will be sentenced May 27 on three fondling charges in Lee County Circuit Court. As a part of his Lee County plea agreement, Dutschke will be sentenced to 45 years in prison with 25 of those suspended. He will also be allowed to serve that sentence alongside his federal sentence in federal prison.