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Friday, December 8, 2023
Dec. 8, 2023

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Spokane man’s trial delayed in ricin-laced letters case

He allegedly sent them to Obama, judge

The Columbian

SPOKANE — The federal trial of a Spokane man charged with sending a poison letter to President Barack Obama has been delayed until next year because of the complexity of the case, U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko ruled on Tuesday.

Suko pushed back the trial of Matthew Ryan Buquet, 37, until May 5. It was supposed to begin later this month.

Suko agreed with lawyers on both sides that the complexity of the case, including dealing with a deadly poison called ricin, made a speedy trial impossible.

“There is only one lab that can process this evidence because of the nature of the toxin involved,” assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Van Marter told the judge.

Prosecutors hoped to have most of their evidence turned over to defense lawyers within the next month, she said.

Defense attorney Matthew Campbell, of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington, said that his office would then have to undertake complex analysis of that evidence.

“There can be no trial in a speedy time,” Campbell said.

Buquet is charged with making ricin in violation of federal law. He is also charged with mailing a letter containing ricin to Obama, and another letter containing ricin to U.S. District Court Judge Fred Van Sickle of Spokane.

The letters were intercepted and there were no injuries.

According to court documents, the letters to Obama and Van Sickle also contained the statement: “We have a bomb placed. We are going to Kill you. Hezbollah,” according to the indictment.

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