April 23, 2013

Charges dropped against man in poison letters case

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Paul Kevin Curtis

The Associated Press/Facebook

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Federal agents wearing hazardous material suits and breathing apparatus inspect the home and possessions in the West Hills Subdivision house of Paul Kevin Curtis in Corinth, Miss., Friday, April 19, 2013. The charges against Curtis were dropped Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said the two letters to Obama and Wicker said: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance." Both were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message."

Multiple online posts on various websites that could be seen by anyone under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000. In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians. He signed off: "This is Kevin Curtis & I approve this message."

Curtis attorney Christi McCoy said she doesn't know what new information prosecutors have and that the plot to frame her client was "very, very diabolical."

Curtis, dressed in a black suit, red shirt, necktie and sunglasses, said he met Dutschke in 2005 but for some reason Dutschke "hated" and "stalked" him. "To this day I have no clue of why he hates me."

Dutschke has maintained his innocence and says he doesn't know anything about the ingredients for ricin. Ricin is derived from the castor plant that makes castor oil. There is no antidote and it is at its deadliest when inhaled. It can be aerosolized, released into the air and inhaled. The Homeland Security handbook says the amount of ricin that fits on the head of a pin is enough to kill an adult if properly prepared.

Dutschke said agents asked him about Curtis, whether Dutschke would take a lie detector test and if 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," said Dutschke, who was a Republican candidate for the Mississippi House of Representatives in 2007 but lost.

After charges were dropped against Curtis, he said: "I'm a little shocked."

Dutschke said his attorney wasn't with him and he didn't know whether he was going to be arrested.

Tuesday's events began when the third day of a preliminary and detention hearing was cancelled without officials explaining the change. Within two hours, Curtis had been released, though it wasn't clear why at first.

FBI Agent Brandon Grant said in court on Monday that searches last week of Curtis' vehicle and house in Corinth, found no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it. A search of Curtis' computers found no evidence he researched making ricin. Authorities produced no other physical evidence at the hearings tying Curtis to the letters.

All the envelopes and stamps were self-adhesive, Grant said Monday, meaning they won't yield DNA evidence. One fingerprint was found on the letter sent to a Lee County judge, but the FBI doesn't know who it belongs to, Grant said.

The experience, Curtis said, has been a nightmare for his family. He has four children — ages, 8, 16, 18 and 20. It also has made him reflect deeply on his life.

"I've become closer to God through all this, closer with my children and I've even had some strained relationships with some family and cousins and this has brought us closer as a family," he said.

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