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Judge in Spokane ricin case recuses self

Thu., Aug. 15, 2013, 1:52 p.m.

The Spokane man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to a federal court in May will have his case heard by a Portland, Ore., judge.

Eastern Washington District Judge Lonny Suko recused himself from proceedings against Matthew Buquet, 38, who is accused of mailing poisoned letters to Suko’s colleague, Fred Van Sickle. Citing a federal statute requiring judges to surrender cases where impartiality might be in question, Suko handed the case over on July 30. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty has been assigned in his stead.

Buquet is also accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, Fairchild Air Force Base and a Spokane post office. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in June. Five letters were eventually discovered containing the toxin derived from castor beans, and no one was injured. Buquet’s trial is set to begin May 5.

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