By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Kevin Curtis and prosecutors must wait until Monday to know if his case will go to a grand jury and if he will get bail.
Curtis, 45, of Corinth, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on two counts that he sent threatening letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo and others. Authorities state they also contained the deadly poison ricin, derived from castor beans.
He remains in custody in the Lafayette County Detention Center.
A three-hour hearing on those issues ended abruptly about 6:10 p.m. Friday when it became obvious to Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander that additional government testimony would push the proceeding at least another hour.
“I don’t think we should stay until midnight,” Alexander told Curtis, the attorneys and a packed courtroom as she called it a day and set the hearing to resume at 10 a.m. Monday.
His attorney, Christi R. McCoy of Oxford, put the day’s only witness, FBI Special Agent Brandon Grant, through a series of pointed questions aimed at learning what evidence was real against Curtis and brought about his arrest or what was just supposition in anticipation of a wider investigation.
“Can anybody say he’s ever made ricin or has the knowledge to do so,” she asked Grant.
No, the agent answered, adding that others who knew him reportedly said they’d be surprised if he did.
“Does anything else link him to ricin?” McCoy continued.
Grant said no, that investigators await DNA and other lab analysis of what comes from Friday’s search of Curtis’ home in Corinth.
The weapons of mass destruction specialist also said that prior to Curtis’ arrest, no evidence existed to show the Elvis tribute artist’s fingerprints on the letters or their envelopes or where the letters were mailed.
Throughout the hearing, Curtis sat beside McCoy and occasionally shook his head in reaction to Grant’s testimony. Other times he turned around and whispered to his 20-year-old daughter, Madison, who sat on the front row.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chad Lamar directed Grant through his multi-page affidavit alleging various facets of the threatening letter scheme which provided Alexander probable cause to issue a criminal complaint against Curtis on Thursday.
Curtis is alleged to have mailed the letters between April 8 and April 17. They were postmarked in Memphis, which where mail from north Mississippi and southeast Tennessee generally goes.
They were identical in materials and wording, and were signed “I am KC and I approve this message.”
Curtis was chosen as a likely suspect by sorting through and narrowing down a massive list of Wicker constituents who’ve written to him.
Lamar took Grant through a series of questions about his interview with Curtis after his arrest.
Grant said Curtis spoke freely about himself and his job termination by North Mississippi Medical Center, where Curtis claimed he discovered a cooler of body parts aimed at the black market for transplants.
Grant also said when Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s Tupelo chief of staff, Mabel Murphree, was asked about Curtis, she said “he was nuts.”
“Unless there’s some conclusive tie to ricin, it doesn’t matter how crazy he is,” McCoy said to Grant.
“We’re still trying to determine lots of things,” Grant admitted. “I believe he is the man who sent these letters.”
One issue for Magistrate Alexander will be whether Curtis poses a danger and can have bail set.
Grant claimed Curtis’ ex-wife told investigators about his bipolar disorder, that he required medication, was extremely violent, threatened to kill her and raped her. Curtis slowly shook his head at this testimony.
He also testified that Curtis told him he became upset with elected officials when they didn’t respond to his communications about various issues.