By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The Tupelo man accused in a scheme to send poisoned letters to public officials pleaded not guilty Wednesday through court documents.
This way, J. Everett Dutschke avoided a scheduled federal court appearance in Oxford today to enter this plea before Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander.
Dutschke, 41, stands indicted on five counts that he made the poison, ricin and used the mail to send it as a weapon to threaten President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
When he signed the hearing waiver, he drew a “smiley face” beside his signature as he’s done on numerous other court documents.
Only Holland actually received the mail and she reportedly had no ill consequences.
The former martial arts instructor was arrested at his South Canal Street home on April 27, four days after federal prosecutors dropped charges against another man whom they said carried out the letter plot.
Dutschke and the man, Elvis impersonator Kevin Curtis of Corinth, apparently conducted a long-term feud.
Authorities claim Dutschke dreamed up the ricin plot to frame Curtis.
If convicted on all charges, Dutschke faces up to life in prison.
Dutschke denies any involvement in the letters. He continues to be held without bond in the Lafayette County Detention Center.
The indictment charges Dutschke with developing, producing and stockpiling the poison ricin, threatening the president and others and attempting to impede the investigation. It also claims he mailed the letters from Tupelo to retaliate against Curtis.
In April, Dutschke pleaded not guilty in Lee Justice Court to two child molestation charges involving three girls younger than 16, at least one of whom was a student at his martial arts studio. He also was appealing a conviction on a different charge of indecent exposure.