UK & World News

  • 24 April 2013, 3:02

Ricin Letters: Suspect Cleared Of Charges

Charges have been dropped against the man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials.

Paul Kevin Curtiswas released from custody on Tuesday - one day after an FBI agent testified that investigators had not found ricin or ingredients for the poison during a search of Curtis' home.

A court filing says the ongoing investigation has revealed new but unspecified information in the case of three ricin-laced letters that were sent to Mr Obama,Senator Roger Wicker and a Lee County, Mississippi, judge.

Meanwhile, another Mississippi man told the AP that the FBI was at his home again on Tuesday for a search related to the letters.

Everett Dutschke said FBI agents questioned him about Curtis, but also asked if he would take a lie detector test and whether he had ever purchased castor beans, which can be used to make the poison.

He has maintained his innocence and says he does not know anything about the ingredients for ricin.

On Monday, FBI agent Brandon Grant said the agency still believed Curtis should remain in custody despite the lack of physical evidence.

The 45-year-old Elvis impersonator was arrested last week at his house in Corinth and charged with threatening the president and the other two officials. The charges carried a possible sentence of 15 years in prison.

The letters sent to Mr Obama and Sen Wicker were intercepted at government mail sorting facilities before reaching the White House and Capitol Hill.

Agent Grant had said authorities tracked down Curtis by using a list of Sen Wicker's constituents with the initials KC - the same initials in the letters.

The letters also contained lines posted on Curtis' Facebook page, including the phrase "I am KC and I approve this message", Mr Grant said.

Tuesday's hearing in federal court was cancelled about 90 minutes after it was supposed to begin. 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.