The U.S. Attorney has convinced Federal Magistrate S. Allan Alexander that there is enough evidence against James Everett Dutschke to bind the case over to a federal grand jury.
Alexander bound the case over to the grand jury during a preliminary and detention proceeding in Oxford on Thursday. She ordered Dutschke held without bond after hearing the evidence that the FBI and other federal investigators have gathered against the 41-year-old Tupelo martial arts instructor and former political candidate.
“It appears to the court that there is probable cause to hold this defendant,” Alexander said.
The case against Dutschke — who maintains he is innocent of charges he manufactured a deadly biological agent and subsequently sent ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland on April 8 — included evidence that articles taken from Dutschke’s martial arts studio tested positive for ricin three separate times.
In addition, the court document said that on April 22 federal agents observed Dutschke discarding a coffee grinder, latex gloves and a dust mask into a trash receptacle. The government believes that the items were used by Dutschke in the manufacturing of the ricin agent.
Prosecutors also presented evidence showing that Dutschke bought castor bean seeds, used to manufacture ricin, on Ebay in November and December of 2012.
In new evidence not included in the original affidavit unsealed on Tuesday, FBI Agent Stephen E. Thomason testified that the government had discovered a third purchase of castor beans by Dutschke. Thomason further testified that initial FBI tests link ricin letters to a printer owned by Dutschke.
Along with the body of evidence already gathered against Dutschke, Thomason said a new search warrant was issued today for another location where more items belonging to the accused, including another printer, are being sought.
Further bolstering the government’s case was evidence provided by local law enforcement officials that Dutschke downloaded two publications about ricin to his computer in January of 2012, That evidence came to light following the seizure of the computer more than a year ago.
If convicted on all counts, Dutschke could face life in prison.–– Michael Harrelson, editor, HottyToddy.com