OUR OPINION: Send Dutschke to prison and let justice take hold

James Everett Dutschke’s last-minute change of heart on Monday to a guilty plea in the mailing of poison-filled letters to U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, President Barack Obama and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland apparently brings to a close the federal charges lodged against him, and prison awaits.

Unresolved are three state charges of fondling involving former students at his defunct martial arts studio. He faces 45 years, with 20 suspended, so that he can serve the time concurrent with his federal sentence in a federal prison. That May 27 part of his sentence depends on a Lee County circuit judge agreeing to stand with a sentencing agreement made in January, before Dutschke’s abrupt withdrawal of a guilty plea, then another change of mind to go ahead with the guilty plea in an appearance Monday before U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock.

The judicial system has worked in bringing Dutschke to trial after the bizarre events in 2013 brought international attention to the allegations first made against Kevin Curtis, the Tupelo man first suspected of sending the letters based on false information supplied by Dutschke. Curtis, known as an Elvis Presley tribute artist, successfully cleared his own name, and afterward investigators arrested Dutschke, starting the chain of events leading to his federal trial.

Curtis was arrested on April 17, 2013, but the charges were dropped six days later when the investigation shifted to Dutschke. After his arrest, Curtis said he had been framed and pointed investigators to Dutschke. It has been reported that the men had met years earlier while both worked for an insurance business owned by Curtis’ brother. Curtis said they had feuded over the years.

Dutschke had run unsuccessfully for public offices in Northeast Mississippi, including in 2007 when he challenged Democratic state Rep. Steve Holland, Plantersville, a son of Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, who received one of the poisoned letters.

Dutschke’s latest change of plea potentially saves taxpayers thousands of dollars in additional legal expenses, and conclusion of the state case would result in similar savings.

Justice needs to begin for Dutschke in a prison where he will be locked away for a long time.