Tupelo man indicted in poisoned letters case

June 12, 2013 in News, Statewide News

JACKSON – (AP) A U.S. grand jury has indicted a man suspected of sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other officials, according to an indictment made public earlier this month.

James Everett Dutschke

The 5-count indictment charges 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke with developing, producing and stockpiling the poison ricin, threatening the president and others and attempting to impede the investigation.

If convicted on the charges, he could face life in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

Dutschke was arrested April 27 at his Tupelo home. He is suspected of mailing ricin-laced letters on April 8 to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Judge Sadie Holland. Dutschke has denied any involvement.

George Lucas, an attorney for Dutschke, said he had not yet seen the indictment and had no immediate comment.

Dutschke, a former martial arts instructor, has unsuccessfully run for elective office, including a 2007 challenge of Holland’s son, Democratic state Rep. Steve Holland.

Authorities said a dust mask that Dutschke removed from his former martial arts studio and dumped in a nearby trash can tested positive for ricin and the DNA of two people, including Dutschke. Authorities haven’t said who else’s DNA was on the mask.

Authorities said Dutschke used the Internet to make three purchases of castor beans, from which ricin is derived, and researched how to make the poison.