Poison-Letters Case: Ricin Suspect Attempts to Flip-Flop Plea Entry

Image: Poison-Letters Case: Ricin Suspect Attempts to Flip-Flop Plea Entry James Everett Dutschke,arrives for a sentencing hearing at the United State Federal Building in Aberdeen Mississippi.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 09:10 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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The Mississippi man who pleaded guilty in January in the poison-letters case involving President Barack Obama and others asked to change his plea to not guilty at a Tuesday hearing.

James Everett Dutschke, the man authorities say sent the ricin-laced notes, was about to be sentenced to 20 years to life in prison when Judge Aycock let him speak, at which time he "launched a half-hour speech that left Aycock holding her head in her hand," The Associated Press reported.

Dutschke originally pleaded not guilty, but changed it to guilty in January, and is now trying to change it back.

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"Your filing the motion to withdraw does not necessarily mean the court will grant it," Aycock told Dutschke. "I do want you to understand that your withdrawal is in the discretion of the court."

The 41-year-old former martial arts instructor was arrested in April of last year after he allegedly sent ricin-tainted letters to the president, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, and Mississippi judge Sadie Holland.

At one point in the ongoing case, he attempted to frame Paul Kevin Curtis, an Elvis impersonator he knows and also once considered writing a government conspiracy theory book with.

According to The Clarion-Ledger, Curtis was again brought up in Dutschke's longwinded courtroom speech, specifically being compared to a Barney the Dinosaur impersonator while Dutschke compared himself to an Olympic gymnast.

At other points in the speech — which was eventually cut short by the judge — he offered prosecutors "a free shot" at killing him if the powder on the letters was in fact ricin by allowing him to "dump the contents of the two remaining letters on a peanut and butter sandwich and eat it and wash it down with a glass of chocolate milk." He also said the DNA evidence used by the prosecution was faulty, and also denied previous charges of child molestation by the state, which were factored into his plea bargain deal.

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