|Ricin Suspect to Face Judge|
|By ALYSSA NEWCOMB (@alyssanewcomb)||Apr 28, 2013, 12:32 PM|
A Mississippi martial arts instructor accused of mailing ricin-laced letters to President Obama and other government officials is expected to appear in federal court on Monday.
The court appearance for James Everett Dutschke, 41, will come nearly a week after charges were dropped against 45-year-old Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis.
At the center of the plot may be a long-running feud between the two men, Curtis' attorney Christi McCoy told The Associated Press. After Curtis was released from jail, she suggested he may have been framed.
"We are relieved but also saddened. This crime is nothing short of diabolical," McCoy told the AP. "I have seen a lot of meanness in the past two decades, but this stops me in my tracks."
After Curtis was released from jail, he told reporters how perplexed he had been by the charges.
"I thought they said rice, so I said, 'I don't even eat rice,'" Curtis said.
Dutschke was arrested earlier this year on two child molestation charges, to which he pled not guilty. He was taken into custody once again on Saturday at his Tupelo, Miss., home.
After his home and business were searched last week, Dutschke also told reporters he had no familiarity with ricin and wasn't the person responsible for sending the poisonous letters.
"I wouldn't recognize ricin if I saw it," he said. "Everybody has something suspicious in their house. But no, there is nothing related to these letters."
His attorney, Lori Nail Basham, has declined to comment on the case to ABC News.
Andrae Nabors, a neighbor of Dutschke, said he wasn't surprised to see the martial arts instructor charged in the poison letters plot.
"He seems odd. There's something about him," Nabors said. "I don't put it past him one bit."
Dutschke was charged with knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon and with attempting, threatening and conspiring to do the same, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney Office for the Northern District of Mississippi. He is being held while he awaits his court appearance.
If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
ABC News' Clayton Sandell and Alexis Shaw contributed reporting.