Lawyer: Former ricin suspect's home is unlivable after FBI search

By Holbrook Mohr

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 30 2013 6:56 a.m. MDT

Firefighters decontaminate their comrade who investigated a suspicious letter which caused the closure of the Kirkman building on Monday, April 29, 2013, in Tallahassee, Fla. State and local authorities are examining the state's highway safety building after a suspicious letter was discovered, forcing some 1,500 employees to evacuate.

Steve Cannon, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

OXFORD, Miss. — Attorneys for a Mississippi man who was briefly charged with sending ricin-laced letters to the president and others are encouraged after speaking with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office about repairing or replacing the man's house after an intensive search left it uninhabitable.

Christi McCoy, an attorney for Kevin Curtis, a 45-year-old Elvis impersonator, said Monday that she and another attorney had spoken with authorities about the process to go through to get their client's property repaired or replaced.

She said she was encouraged by their response to a letter she sent U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams demanding that Curtis be provided temporary housing and that the government repair his Corinth, Miss., home and possessions. She also wants the government to pay his legal bills.

"We feel like the letter was well-received and we'll be working with the FBI to get all his property returned and get his property repaired," she said Monday night.

McCoy contended that Curtis couldn't return home after investigators searched it but failed to find evidence of the deadly poison ricin.

"To be specific, Mr. Curtis' home is uninhabitable. I have seen a lot of post search residences but this one is quite disturbing. The agents removed art from the walls, broke the frames and tore the artwork. Mr. Curtis offered his keys but agents chose to break the lock. Mr. Curtis' garbage was scheduled to be picked up Thursday, the day after he was snatched from his life. A week later, the garbage remains in his home, along with millions of insects it attracted," the letter says.

Curtis was once charged in the mailing of poisoned letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge, but the charges were later dropped. The investigation shifted last week to another man who had a falling out with Curtis, and that suspect appeared in court Monday on a charge of making ricin.

Though attorneys for Curtis say their client was framed, McCoy believes whoever sent the letters had a primary goal of targeting the public officials. Curtis has said that he feuded with the man now charged in the case, 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke.

"I think Kevin was just an afterthought or a scapegoat," McCoy said.

Some of the language in the letters was similar to posts on Curtis' Facebook page and they were signed, "I am KC and I approve this message." Curtis often used a similar online signoff.

Had damaging Curtis been the point of the scheme, McCoy said she believes that whoever set up her client could have done a better job of implicating him, such as planting evidence at his home.

McCoy said in an interview Monday that she still believes the FBI acted on the best information available at the time, but it's time to make her client whole. The letter said Curtis' life was "ruined."

Curtis was arrested April 17. The charges were dropped six days later and Curtis was released from jail.

A message left seeking comment about McCoy's letter at the federal prosecutor's office in Oxford, Miss., wasn't immediately returned.

After Curtis was released, the focus turned to Dutschke. In court Monday, a judge ordered that Dutschke be held without bond until a preliminary and detention hearing Thursday. More details are likely to emerge at that hearing, when prosecutors have to show they have enough evidence to hold him.

Dutschke made a brief appearance wearing an orange jumpsuit with his hands shackled. He said little during his hearing other than answering affirmatively to the judge's questions about whether he understood the charges against him.

Dutschke has denied involvement in the mailing of the letters, saying he's a patriot with no grudges against anyone. He has previously run for political office and was known to frequent political rallies in northern Mississippi.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS