James Everett Dutschke will be in Federal court in Oxford, Mississippi today for preliminary detention hearing. Evidence will be heard by a U.S. Magistrate to determine whether or not there is enough to take the case to a grand jury and whether or not Dutschke should be held without bond or not.
The first man arrested in this case, an Elvis impersonator named Kevin Curtis, was released for lack of evidence other than quotes used in the letters that matched Curtis’ Facebook page and prior letters sent to Senator Wicker. Curtis’ attorney claimed that her client was being framed by one James Everett Dutschke who is also a performer. Dutschke has retained counsel for the hearing today from George Lucas who has so stayed quiet.
Dutschke has denied any involvement. His lawyer, George Lucas, declined comment. – Source: USA TODAY
This case has been strange from the start. Elvis impersonator to a man who impersonates Wayne Newton and performs in a band called Robodrum who is now being defended by a man named George Lucas. Seriously? You can’t make this stuff up.
Dutschke has maintained from the start that he did not send the letters laced with Ricin and went as far as to have a neighbor, Rory Key, video tape a statement of his innocence.
This statement was uploaded on April 23rd, just days before James Dutschke was arrested on April 27th. Rory Key apparently lives just down the street, but does not know Dustchke well:
Rory Key lives just down the street from Dutschke’s house. He said Dutschke came to his house while the FBI was searchingthe suspect’s home asking for a drink and a snack.
He said the suspect was more upset than nervous. Key said he doesn’t believe Dutscke committed the crime. He also said he didn’t know him that well because Dustchke kept to himself.
-Source ABC 13 Local
Key, it would seem, knew Dutschke well enough to invite him into his home and video tape him making a statement of innocence. In fact, Rory Key gave more than one statement and seemed to know quite a bit about what was happening inside the Dutschke home. The MCHerald reported:
Dutschke’s neighbors near his home at 344 Canal St. in Tupelo had mixed feelings on his guilt or innocence.
“I don’t think he did this. What would be his motivation?” said Rory Key, who lives a few houses down from Dutschke’s brick house. “You can only go on what a man tells you, and he told me he didn’t do it.”
Key said he provided a brief refuge for Dutschke during the day that several agencies searched his home looking for evidence of the deadly toxin. Key also interviewed Dutschke and posted the video on YouTube.
“This morning I met with the FBI, I consented to a search, signed a piece of paper saying go ahead and search the house, and they’re doing that right now,” Dutschke says to Key’s camera.
Key said he spoke to him after the search as well.
“He said he was trying to get his life back to normal. They took the P-traps out of his sink. They took the air filters,” said Key. “He said his whole house had a strange chemical smell.”
Many neighbors on the street didn’t want to comment publicly on the case because they didn’t know Dutschke, saying they would see him coming and going but that they never knew much about him.
Key said the surveillance and the search on Dutschke’s house left an impression because it looked just like it does on television and the movies.
“It got wild,” he said. “First it was the sheriff’s office, then the local police, and then the FBI and the Army showed up.”
He said neighbors were told by police to stay inside their homes for their own safety, but they weren’t kept from coming and going if they needed to leave.
“There were small aircraft flying at high altitudes for several days, and they were clearly circling the neighborhood,” Key said.
Key said that during one conversation, he and Dutschke joked about how Dutschke was going to see a movie and he wondered what movie the feds would like to see.
Perhaps Mr. Key was just being kind or really does believe Dutschke is innocent. Maybe the attention from the media was a novelty. Who knows. Personally, I would not have let someone into my home that was accused of child molestation and sending Ricin tainted letters to public officials, including the President, if I didn’t already know them pretty darn well.
We’ll have an update after the hearing.
UPDATE 5/2/13 2:45 pm EST: Judge holds Dutschke case over to Grand Jury.
U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander this morning ordered the case of J. Everett Dutschke bound over to the next federal grand jury in the nationally notorious letters case.
“It appears to the court that there is probable cause to hold this defendant,” Alexander said, and it will be up to the grand jury to accuse him of either knowingly developing the poison ricin, conspiring to do so, or intending to mail it to the officials, who included U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Dutschke continues to be held without bond since his arrest Saturday morning.
The next grand jury is expected to convene in just a few days.
Also, from the same article, it looks like another location is being searched:
Law enforcement are conducting a search at Traceview Lane in north Tupelo. No official confirmation on if it is related to J. Everett Dutschke case. It looks like they are searching a trailer in the area. Tupelo Police said they could not comment on the search. The law enforcement on scene is not as large as searches that went on previously in the Dutschke case.
Dutschke’s attorney, George Lucas, waived a detention hearing but can ask for one at a later date. That means, for now, James Dutschke remains incarcerated.
Prior Articles on the Ricin Letters: