James Everett Dutschke, the man behind sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama, wants to withdraw his guilty plea.
In January, Dutschke pleaded guilty to the crime. On Tuesday, however, he seemed to have changed his mind when he asked the presiding judge if he could withdraw his plea just before his sentence was about to be read.
Sharion Aycock, the U.S. District Judge, said that she will not immediately decide on the request. However, she told the prosecutors and the defense to raise arguments whether to hold Dutschke to his plea, which she called a “contract.”
“I do want you to understand that your withdrawal is in the discretion of the court,” Judge Aycock told Dutschke.
Dutschke initially pleaded guilty to making ricin and sending three letters through the mail to target President Barack Obama, Mississippi Judge Sadie Holland, and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker. The letters to Wicker and Obama were intercepted. The third letter, addressed to Holland, was delivered, but reports say that the judge was not harmed.
Throughout the hearing, Judge Aycock shut down defense lawyers who were seeking to lessen their client’s prison sentence. Court officials say that Dutschke should serve a sentence of 20 years to life imprisonment.
Before reading Dutschke’s sentence, Judge Aycock allowed the defendant to speak. Dutschke then gave a speech that lasted half an hour. In his speech, he said that federal prosecutors were lying when they said that he made ricin. He stated that he was only guilty of creating fertilizer from castor beans, which were harmless.
He even displayed his confidence in court by asking the prosecutors to allow him to eat the powdered substance in evidence, just so he can show them that it is not poison. “I will dump the contents of the two remaining letters on a peanut and butter sandwich and eat it and wash it down with a glass of chocolate milk,” he said.
Judge Aycock said in reply, “Your filing motion to withdraw does not necessarily mean the court will grant it.”
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