crimesider

Miss. man who sent ricin letter to Obama gets 25 years

James Everett Dutschke, seen near his home in Tupelo, Miss., was sentenced for 25 years in prison for sending ricin-laced letters to officials including President Barack Obama

AP

JACKSON, Miss. - A Mississippi man who pleaded guilty to sending letters dusted with the poison ricin to President Barack Obama and other officials last year has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

James Everett Dutschke was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock in Aberdeen after telling the judge he had changed his mind about wanting to withdraw his guilty plea in the case. The 42-year-old also was sentenced to five years of supervised release and remains in federal custody.

He was accused of sending the letters to Obama, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Mississippi judge Sadie Holland in April 2013.

Poisoned letters addressed to Obama and Wicker were intercepted before delivery, but one letter reached Holland. She was not harmed.

The Tupelo man told Aycock on May 13 that he wanted to withdraw the plea agreement he made with federal prosecutors in January, saying federal prosecutors lied when they said he made the poison and about finding his DNA on a dust mask.

Dutschke said he was guilty only of using castor beans to make a fertilizer that couldn't hurt anyone.

Withdrawing the plea could have opened Dutschke to a possible life sentence as well as a longer sentence in a state court proceeding where he had pleaded guilty to fondling charges. The two cases had been linked in the January plea agreement.

Federal prosecutor Chad Lamar said the judge found the outcome to be balanced.

"She found our agreement to be a fair sentence and one that represented the severity of the crime committed," Lamar said after the hearing.