April 23, 2013 in Nation/World

No ricin found in man’s home

Feds hold Mississippi suspect without bail
Jeff Amy Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Federal agents inspect the home and possessions of Paul Kevin Curtis in Corinth, Miss., on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

OXFORD, Miss. – Investigators haven’t found any ricin in the house of a Mississippi man accused of mailing poisoned letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a local judge, according to testimony Monday from an FBI agent.

Agent Brandon Grant said a search of Paul Kevin Curtis’ vehicle and house in Corinth, Miss., on Friday did not turn up ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it. A search of Curtis’ computers has found no evidence so far that he researched making ricin.

Defense lawyers for Curtis say investigators’ failure to find any ricin means the government should release their client. That lack of physical evidence could loom large as a detention and preliminary hearing continues this morning. U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Allan Alexander ended the hearing after lunch Monday, citing a personal schedule conflict.

Through his lawyer, Curtis has denied involvement in letters sent to Obama, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, and a Lee County, Miss., judge. The first of the letters was found April 15.

“There was no apparent ricin, castor beans or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something,” Grant testified. He speculated that Curtis could have thrown away the processor. Grant said computer technicians are now doing a “deep dive” on the suspect’s computers after initially finding no “dirty words” indicating Curtis had searched for information on ricin.

Christi McCoy, who is leading the defense for Curtis, said the government doesn’t have probable cause to hold her client and his history of problems related to bipolar disorder are not enough to keep him in jail.

“The searches are concluded, not one single shred of evidence was found to indicate Kevin could have done this,” McCoy told reporters after the hearing.

She questioned why Curtis would have signed the letters “I am KC and I approve this message,” a phrase he had used on his Facebook page, and then thrown away a processor used to grind castor beans. And she said that in any event, Curtis is not enough of an imminent danger or flight risk to justify holding him without bail.

McCoy said in court that someone may have framed Curtis, suggesting that a former business associate of Curtis’ brother, a man with whom Curtis had an extended exchange of angry emails, may have set him up.

Still, Grant testified that authorities believe that they have the right suspect.

The detention and preliminary hearing began Friday in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss.

© Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus