By Holbrook Mohr
OXFORD, Miss. — A Mississippi man’s house is uninhabitable after investigators searched it but failed to find evidence of the deadly poison ricin, a lawyer said Monday, arguing that the government should repair the home.
Kevin Curtis was 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.
Curtis’ lawyer, Christi McCoy, has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams demanding that Curtis be provided temporary housing and the government repair his Corinth, Miss., home and possessions. She also wants the government to pay his legal bills.
“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.
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, 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, a 45-year-old Elvis impersonator, was arrested on 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 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 on 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. The 41-year-old suspect said little during his hearing other than answering affirmatively to the judge’s questions about whether he understood the charges against him.
Dutschke (pronounced DUHS’-kee) 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. An attorney from the public defender’s office appointed to represent Dutschke declined to comment after Monday’s hearing. Another attorney of Dutschke’s, Lori Nail Basham, said she will continue to represent him in other matters but not the federal case.