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Paul Kevin Curtis, Ricin Letter Suspect, Released From Jail

3:07 PM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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(USA Today) -- A federal official says the man charged with sending poison letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge has been released on bond.

Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Oxford says Paul Kevin Curtis was released from custody sometime near 11 a.m.

Woodfin says he doesn't know any conditions on the release.

The development comes hours after officials canceled a detention and preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Christi McCoy, defense attorney for Curtis says that federal authorities and defense attorneys will speak to reporters at 5 p.m. CDT about the case.

Yesterday, based on what she said was a lack of evidence linking Curtis to the case, McCoy called for the case to be dropped against her client.

The hearing cancellation announcement came 90 minutes after the hearing was supposed to start in federal court. Lawyers spent that time conferring with the judge. Later, Curtis and family members were escorted into a meeting room with his lawyers, followed by a probation officer.

AP reporter Jeff Amy was live-tweeting the courtroom proceedings as the court waited for the hearing to begin. Things were moving slowly with attorneys, the suspect, and family members being taken in and out of the courtroom in apparent discussions. It was very unclear, however, what was going on.

"Tea leaf reading/speculation. It's like the Letterman show: Is this something?" Amy tweeted in response to a follower.

The hearing was canceled just after Amy had tweeted, "Curtis' brother Jack and stepfather Ed leave courtroom after defense counsel/former FBI agent Hal Neilson opens door and motions."

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said Monday that his office is only investigating the letter to Judge Sadie Holland and that federal authorities are looking at those to the president and Wicker. Curtis is facing federal charges of knowingly using the mail to threaten the life of the president and "to injure the person of others," but Lee County authorities have not charged him.

On Monday, an FBI agent said federal authorities didn't find any ricin in Curtis' Corinth home or vehicle.

McCoy says the search results bolster Curtis' claims of innocence.

McCoy also pointed to alleged child molester and former political hopeful J. Everett Dutschke as a possible person of interest in potentially framing her client.

Dist. 16 Rep. Steve Holland said doesn't know of any reason Curtis would have to target his mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, who received one of the tainted letters. "Dutschke, on the other hand, hates the Hollands with a passion," he said.

Dutschke ran against Holland for the Dist. 16 House seat in 2007. Holland said Monday that he had gotten an anonymous call that there might be a link between Dutschke and the poisoned letter, but he told the caller to tell the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

Officials and Curtis' family members have also said that Dutschke and Curtis knew each other and were not friendly. They were known to have some kind of disagreement between them that may have started with Dutschke's claim that he would help Curtis publish a book.

According to their online posts, Dutschke and Curtis are both musicians, martial artists and members of Mensa, an international society for people with high IQs. Dutschke says he is an officer in the organization. Both were known for ranting online and writing Internet posts and emails to prominent figures.

Johnson said it seems odd that Curtis would have gone from being an online ranter to someone who would take steps to hurt or kill someone, but that you really can't always predict behavior.

"I think that it is an enormous step to take between electronically forming your opinion and going to a lethal threat physically by sending these things in the mail," he said. "But then I've worked cases before where people didn't take little bitty steps but started with a fatal incident with no previous record. You have to start narrowing it down, and because of Mr. Curtis' actions in the past, he brought a lot of attention to himself on this."

Christi McCoy, defense attorney for Curtis says that federal authorities and defense attorneys will speak to reporters at 5 p.m. CDT about the case.

Yesterday, based on what she said was a lack of evidence linking Curtis to the case, McCoy called for the case to be dropped against her client.

The hearing cancellation announcement came 90 minutes after the hearing was supposed to start in federal court. Lawyers spent that time conferring with the judge. Later, Curtis and family members were escorted into a meeting room with his lawyers, followed by a probation officer.

AP reporter Jeff Amy was live-tweeting the courtroom proceedings as the court waited for the hearing to begin. Things were moving slowly with attorneys, the suspect, and family members being taken in and out of the courtroom in apparent discussions. It was very unclear, however, what was going on.

"Tea leaf reading/speculation. It's like the Letterman show: Is this something?" Amy tweeted in response to a follower.

The hearing was canceled just after Amy had tweeted, "Curtis' brother Jack and stepfather Ed leave courtroom after defense counsel/former FBI agent Hal Neilson opens door and motions."

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said Monday that his office is only investigating the letter to Judge Sadie Holland and that federal authorities are looking at those to the president and Wicker. Curtis is facing federal charges of knowingly using the mail to threaten the life of the president and "to injure the person of others," but Lee County authorities have not charged him.

On Monday, an FBI agent said federal authorities didn't find any ricin in Curtis' Corinth home or vehicle.

McCoy says the search results bolster Curtis' claims of innocence.

McCoy also pointed to alleged child molester and former political hopeful J. Everett Dutschke as a possible person of interest in potentially framing her client.

Dist. 16 Rep. Steve Holland said doesn't know of any reason Curtis would have to target his mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, who received one of the tainted letters. "Dutschke, on the other hand, hates the Hollands with a passion," he said.

Dutschke ran against Holland for the Dist. 16 House seat in 2007. Holland said Monday that he had gotten an anonymous call that there might be a link between Dutschke and the poisoned letter, but he told the caller to tell the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

Officials and Curtis' family members have also said that Dutschke and Curtis knew each other and were not friendly. They were known to have some kind of disagreement between them that may have started with Dutschke's claim that he would help Curtis publish a book.

According to their online posts, Dutschke and Curtis are both musicians, martial artists and members of Mensa, an international society for people with high IQs. Dutschke says he is an officer in the organization. Both were known for ranting online and writing Internet posts and emails to prominent figures.

Johnson said it seems odd that Curtis would have gone from being an online ranter to someone who would take steps to hurt or kill someone, but that you really can't always predict behavior.

"I think that it is an enormous step to take between electronically forming your opinion and going to a lethal threat physically by sending these things in the mail," he said. "But then I've worked cases before where people didn't take little bitty steps but started with a fatal incident with no previous record. You have to start narrowing it down, and because of Mr. Curtis' actions in the past, he brought a lot of attention to himself on this."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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