By Patsy R. Brumfield and JB Clark /NEMS Daily Journal
A court filing says charges have been dropped against Kevin Curtis who was accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and Judge Sadie Holland. Breaking news updates below …
8:38 p.m.Members of the National Guard are currently crawling under and through culverts along Veterans Boulevard and into Canal Street in Tupelo searching for something. It’s near Dutschke’s neighborhood near home.
6:12 p.m.: By Patsy R. Brumfield/ NEMS Daily Journal – OXFORD – Kevin Curtis thanks his family, Jesus and his fans for their love and support as he faced federal prosecution this week accused of sending poison-laden letters to President Obama and others.
“It was divine intervention when this blue-eyed angel came to my cell,” said the 45-year-old Elvis tribute artist looking at his attorney, Christi R. McCoy, at his side during a late-afternoon news conference.
About that time, federal prosecutors dismissed all charges against Curtis as they turned their attentions elsewhere to try to solve the crime.
Law enforcement agents, the FBI, hazardous materials investigators and others converged on the Tupelo home of J. Everett Dutschke by early afternoon with question for him about a long-running feud with Curtis.
Dutschke continued to insist that he had nothing to do with the letter scheme, which featured a brief message signed “I am KC and I approved this message,” a signature way Kevin Curtis ended internet posts.
McCoy and co-counsel Hal Neilson expressed appreciation to prosecutors for their willingness to admit, after three days of court hearings and nearly a week of Curtis in custody, that they had the wrong man.
“I knew last Thursday when I met him that Kevin had not done this,” McCoy told a crowd of reporters at the federal courthouse in Oxford.
No public comment has come yet from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which handled Curtis’ prosecution.
Come back for more details or read Wednesday’s Daily Journal.
5:26 p.m.: Lori Nail Basham, a local attorney who has represented Dutschke in previous criminal charges said that Dutschke is “cooperating fully” with the FBI as they conduct a search at his Tupelo residence.
Basham tells Daily Journal’s Sarah Robinson she was “confused” as to how someone could mention Dutschke’s name and “end up with the FBI” searching his residence. She confirmed that Dutschke and Curtis are acquaintances and said she believed they have been for 3 or 4 years.
She is unaware of whether or not the two have had any previous altercations.
Basham said she has not yet seen the search warrant, but hopes that it will shed more light on the investigation and the probable cause on which the search warrant was based.
5:15 p.m.: Laura Curtis, Kevin Curtis’ former wife, tells Daily Journal reporter Sarah Robinson the family is “thrilled” that Kevin is being released. She said that she had not spoken with Kevin Curtis as of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday and she did not know any details about his release. His ex-wife did speak with him Monday evening and said that Kevin Curtis was completely unaware of the media coverage around his case and was surprised to hear that his case had made national news.
5:14 p.m. – : From the news conference in Oxford. More to come …
Kevin Curtis’ attorney Christi R. McCoy just spoke in Oxford and said that all federal charges have been dropped against Curtis.
“This has been a long week with a lot of things happening,’ McCoy said. “It has been long for us all but nothing to compare to what Kevin has been through.”
McCoy said it was her understanding federal officials were searching J. Everett Dutschke’s home in Tupelo. Federal officials have made no comment confirming or denying Dutschke’s involvement in the case and no charges have been filed.
“I do want to say that (Kevin Curtis) was treated well by federal authorities nothing but professionalism,” McCoy said. “They went where the evidence led and then they went were the true evidence was.”
Kevin Curtis made a statement thanking his attorney, his family and supporters.
“I would like to thank all my friends and family for their love and support and most of all I would like to thank Jesus Christ,” he said.
4:59 p.m.: It appears Kevin Curtis will take part in the news conference. Updates from Patsy Brumfield after the news conference.
4:46 p.m.: All federal charges dropped against Kevin Curtis, his attorney Hal Neilson says. More soon.
4 p.m. From Patsy R. Brumfield in Oxford …
OXFORD – Kevin Curtis’ attorney Christi R. McCoy said a few minutes ago that her client wants to attend a 5 p.m. news conference with her and counsel Hal Neilson, but she’s advised against it.
“But who knows,” she said in a drive-by interview with media in front of the Oxford federal courthouse about 3:50 p.m.
McCoy and Neilson are set to speak with reporters about the government’s apparently failed case against Curtis, whom they arrested last Wednesday on charges he mailed poison-laden letters to President Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Throughout, Curtis maintained he did not do that, and FBI investigators failed to turn up any direct link between him and the letters.
Curtis, 45, of Corinth was released from custody late this morning and was taken to family members, who drove him away toward Lee County.
McCoy said she’s unaware of any events unfolding in Tupelo surrounding the FBI investigation into J. Everett Dutschke but added that whoever framed her client “was diabolical.”
Dutschke, a martial arts instructor who had difficulties with Curtis, insists he did not send the letters.
Come back for news from the 5 p.m. interviews.
3:30 p.m.: Everett Dutschke said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the FBI was at his home Tuesday for a search related to the mailing of the poisoned letters to Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge. Dutschke said his house was also searched last week.
Dutschke has maintained his innocence and says he doesn’t know anything about the ingredients for ricin. He said agents asked him questions about suspect Paul Kevin Curtis but also asked him if he would take a lie detector test and whether he had ever bought castor beans, which can be used to make the potent poison.
“I’m a patriotic American. I don’t have any grudges against anybody. I did not send the letters,” Dutschke said.
2 p.m.: Daily Journal’s JB Clark reports several law enforcement units around the Dutschke home now. That includes the 47th Civil Support Team. That team is Mississippi’s full time response team for emergencies or terrorist events that involve weapons of mass destruction or toxic industrial chemicals.
1:39 p.m.: At, 1:39 p.m. FBI search team moved in with Tupelo, Lee County and Capitol Police authorities at the J. Everett Dutschke home at Canal Street in Tupelo. About 10 law enforcement vehicles are in the area. Dutschke came out of his Tupelo home a few minutes before and told reporters the FBI is at his house and has been questioning him. Dutschke once again said he has nothing to do with the ricin-letter plot.
1:15 p.m.: J. Everett Dutschke came out of his Tupelo home a few minutes ago and told reporters the FBI is at his house and has been questioning him. Dutschke once again said he has nothing to do with the ricin-letter plot.
Kevin Curtis’ attorney Christi McCoy suggested yesterday in court prosecutors take a look at Dutschke, with whom she claims in 2010 Curtis had a heated email correspondence, so much so that Curtis’ parents warned Dutschke to back off.
12:05 p.m. OXFORD — Federal marshals have confirmed that Kevin Curtis has been released from custody. More as this story continues to develop.
Conditions of his release were not immediately available, but a late-afternoon news conference with Curtis’ attorneys and federal authorities may provide answers.
His lawyer Christi McCoy, who has been pushing for the charges to be dropped, said in a text message to The Associated Press Tuesday that she could only confirm that her client has been released.
“I can tell you he is with his family,” McCoy said
At FBI headquarters in Washington, spokesman Paul Bresson told The Associated Press, “This remains an ongoing investigation.”
More as it is available.
• • •
OXFORD – Kevin Curtis’ case will be delayed and additional news will be presented later today, his defense counsel announced to reporters in the Oxford courtroom.
Questions remain about whether his case will go to a grand jury or if bail will be set. Both sides will speak to reporters at 5 p.m. CDT about the case.
Today is the third for a federal court hearing to consider what to do with Curtis’ case and whether he gets bail. He’s been held in the Lafayette County Detention Center since his arrest Wednesday.
Curtis, 45 of Corinth was arrested by federal authorities on accusations he mailed threatening letters laden with the deadly poison ricin to President Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
This hearing began Friday, presided over by Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander.
Defense counsel Christi R. McCoy of Oxford on Monday continued to press FBI investigator Brandon Grant to tell the court what direct links and direct evidence he had to show Curtis was responsible.
Grant said he did not have any, although he expected evidence from a far-flung investigation into the allegations.
Over the weekend, investigators scoured Curtis’ home, his vehicle and his ex-wife’s home and reportedly failed to discover any incriminating evidence, McCoy said late Sunday.
Prosecutors for the hearing are assistant U.S. attorneys Chad Lamar and John Marshall Alexander.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.