Man Who Mailed Ricin Letters Gets 25 Years in Prison

Image: James Everett Dutschke flanked by U.S. Marshals arrives for a sentencing hearing at the United State Federal Building in Aberdeen
James Everett Dutschke, flanked by U.S. Marshals, arrives for a sentencing hearing at the United State Federal Building in Aberdeen, Mississippi May 13, 2014. Dutschke withdrew guilty plea at a sentencing hearing today.THOMAS WELLS / Reuters

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The Mississippi man who admitted sending letters laced with poison to President Barack Obama, a senator and a judge was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.

The man, a former martial acts instructor named James Everett Dutschke, had said last week that he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea and that he couldn’t have hurt anyone. He said Monday that he had changed his mind again.

Dutschke admitted sending the letters to the president, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and Sadie Holland, a state judge, last year. They were laced with ricin, which can kill even in tiny doses.

The letters to Obama and the senator were intercepted at screening facilities. Holland’s letter got to her, but she was not harmed.

Prosecutors have said that Dutschke framed another man, an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis who has a long-running feud with Dutschke. Curtis was arrested last year. Charges against him were dropped.

Dutschke first agreed to the guilty plea in January. Had he withdrawn the plea and been convicted, he could have faced life in prison.

Chad Lamar, a federal prosecutor on the case, said that the sentence was fair and “represented the severity of the crime committed.”

— Erin McClam

The Associated Press contributed to this report.