Ricin poisoning suspect has been released from jail

The man accused of trying to poison the president, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi judge with ricin has been released from jail, the U.S. Marshal’s Service said Tuesday.

The circumstances behind the release of Paul Kevin Curtis, a 45-year-old part-time singer and Elvis impersonator from Mississippi, were not clear. Prosecutors and his defense attorney had scheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference to talk about the case but did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

In the preliminary hearings that followed Curtis’ arrest last week, FBI officials said they had not discovered any ricin or ricin-making materials at Curtis’ home, nor any Internet searches on his computers that indicated he had made searches for ricin.

Curtis’ attorney, Christi McCoy of Oxford, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday evening that “there is absolutely not a shred of evidence to link this poor guy” to the letters sent to the officials and she hoped the judge would dismiss the federal charges against him.

Family members said Curtis has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and for years he has nurtured suspicions of a secret government plot to harvest organs, prompting him to contact numerous public officials.

Federal court records show U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander ordered detention and preliminary hearings to be continued, putting the proceedings on hold.

Tuesday’s hearing in federal court was canceled about 90 minutes after it was supposed to begin, The Associated Press reported. Lawyers spent that time conferring with the judge. Later, Curtis and family members were escorted into a meeting room with his lawyers, followed by a probation officer, the AP said.