By JB Clark
TUPELO – James Everett Dutschke’s sentencing hearing on fondling charges is set for May 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Lee County Circuit Court.
The state-level sentencing hearing follows Tuesday’s hearing in federal court in which he recanted his guilty plea before he could be given a sentence on charges of mailing poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other elected officials.
Dutschke pleaded guilty in January to three charges of fondling a minor – two in Tupelo, one in Lee County.
As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors recommended a 45-year sentence, with 20 years served in prison and 25 suspended, to run concurrent with the federal sentence on charges of mailing ricin-laced letters.
Now that the he has recanted his federal guilty plea and broken his plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, any sentence associated with the federal charges will likely not run concurrently with a state sentence.
District Attorney Trent Kelly said the fondling case will proceed forward like any other guilty plea, and he hopes the court honors their plea agreement.
Dutschke originally pleaded not guilty to all state and federal charges but later came to a plea agreement with prosecutors.
During his change-of-plea hearings for both the state and federal charges, Dustchke tiptoed around an actual admission of guilt.
Both U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock and Lee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk made Dutschke confess guilt to the charges in order to continue with the 25-year plea agreement.