Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Ricin Dude To Plead Moron in Ricin Case?

S8dze86hcc2iwex1dcwn
AP Photo

From the AP ...

Lucas, Dutschke's lawyer, said there was a way to make ricin in a way so that it isn't deadly and repeatedly questioned the agent about tests performed on the substance in the letters.

"If it's ricin, it's deadly," the agent said.

The FBI has not revealed details about how lethal the ricin was. A Senate official has said the ricin was not weaponized, meaning it wasn't in a form that could easily enter the body. If inhaled, ricin can cause respiratory failure, among other symptoms. No antidote exists.

The key point here is that Lucas is looking at a claim that his client intentionally created the kid-safe non-toxic ricin.

As it happens, it seems that as a factual matter Dutschke's ricin was so poorly made that it may in fact have been close to non-toxic -- but presumably through error not intent. Our Hunter Walker spoke to the son of Judge Sadie Holland who received one of the letters. And Judge Holland, apparently sensing something was wrong with the letter, actually sniffed the letter, according to her son.

Here's the state legislator, Rep. Steve Holland (D) (who Dutschke actually ran against as a Tea Party candidate) describing his conversation with 80 year old judge Holland ...

I think it was April the 10th that was a Wednesday or Thursday ... She got the first one and then it was over the course of the weekend when it arrived in Washington and Wicker and Obama were involved. After a funeral on Sunday afternoon momma said, 'Have you heard what happened to me?'

I said, "What happened, momma?" She said, "Well I got a death threat." And I said "You've got to be kidding with me! Whats the deal?" And she said "It had some kind of poisonous powder in it." She didnt even know what risin was--ricin and I said, "Mother, My God --- I dont know much about it either but I think if you breathe it or ingest it you know you're in serious trouble." And she said, "Well I gave it the smell test and it didnt smell right and I called Sheriff Johnson immediately"

So despite being over 80 she didn't seem to have suffered any ill-effects. So not the most potent stuff.

But I'm going to be curious to see the court transcript to get more of a sense of where Lucas is going with this.