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Man who sent ricin-laced letters to be sentenced

A Tupelo man is facing sentencing, wrapping up one of the most bizarre cases ever tried.

A federal judge has set a May 14 sentencing date for James Everett Dutschke, who pleaded guilty to making ricin and sending letters dusted with the poison to President Barack Obama and other officials.

Dutschke will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock in Aberdeen.

The 42-year-old Tupelo man also pleaded guilty in January to sending the ricin-laced letters to Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Mississippi judge Sadie Holland.

Prosecutors have recommended a 25-year sentence. It could run concurrently with the recommended 20-year sentence Dutschke faces in state court, where he pleaded guilty to unrelated fondling charges.

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

Prosecutors said Dutschke tried to frame entertainer Paul Kevin Curtis, who was originally arrested in the case.

The letters contained statements that Curtis had often used on his Facebook page, including the line, “I am KC and I approve this message.” The letters also contained the phrase “Missing Pieces,” the same title as an unpublished book Curtis wrote about his belief that a black market for body parts exists in the United States.

Charges against Curtis were dropped when the investigation shifted to Dutschke. Curtis said the men have feuded for years.

Before pleading guilty in the federal ricin case, Dutschke had denied sending the letters. He also denied a charge filed in November that, while incarcerated, he tried to recruit someone else to send a ricin-tainted letter.

Dutschke is a former martial arts instructor in the north Mississippi town of Tupelo, Elvis Presley’s birthplace. He had also run unsuccessfully for public office, including for a state legislative seat in which he challenged the son of the state court judge who received one of the letters.

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