After sitting in fear of life behind bars for seven days, Elvis Presley impersonator and self-professed liberal Christian Paul Kevin Curtis beamed with relief on Wednesday that federal authorities dismissed charges that he sent deadly ricin to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a judge a week ago.
"No one in the system told me anything regarding being released. All I got on the inside was 'Man you're in trouble. Man you tried to kill the President," said Curtis, who appeared with his lawyer Christi McCoy in an interview on CNN Wednesday.
"When I got to Christi on the day it was dismissed, I walked up to her screen window… and she said 'just hold on we don't have all the information but there has been a turn of events it looks like we're gonna get you out of here today and this will be dismissed'," he noted.
"That's when I felt this train lifted off my shoulders, that was the first moment after seven days of sitting in a tiny cell looking out the bars that I thought 'oh my gosh, I'm not going to prison for life,'" he added.
In a report on Tuesday, Jeff Woodfin, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service in Oxford, Miss., confirmed that Curtis had been released from custody but it wasn't clear what the conditions of the release were.
The announcement was made less than two hours after a detention and preliminary hearing was canceled without explanation.
FBI Agent Brandon Grant testified on Monday, that searches conducted on Friday of Curtis' vehicle and house in Corinth, Miss., revealed no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or any device used to make it. His computers also showed no evidence of research on how to make the deadly poison.
"There was no apparent ricin, castor beans or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something," said Grant, who speculated Curtis could have disposed of the evidence.
The Elvis Presley impersonator had denied any involvement with the letters through his lawyer.
"The searches are concluded, not one single shred of evidence was found to indicate Kevin could have done this," his lawyer told reporters on Monday. She also suggested in court that her client may have been framed by someone who copied a signature phrase he uses on Facebook, "I am KC and I approve this message." The phrase was used to sign the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker and a Lee County, Miss., judge.
Despite the release, officers had maintained that Curtis was the right suspect. Much of the evidence, such as Curtis writing to Sen. Wicker before, appeared circumstantial. All the envelopes used in the attacks were self-adhesive so they did not yield any DNA evidence.
On Wednesday, however, McCoy confirmed with CNN that the charges had been dismissed before 5 p.m. on Tuesday and there wasn't any likelihood of follow-up charges. "…Their interest is not looking at Kevin as a suspect," McCoy said of prosecutors.
She also noted that investigators asked them not to go public with the decision to avoid compromising further investigations into the case that appear to be a frame job.
When asked if the arrest would affect his impersonating business, Curtis indicated he didn't think it would.
"There is no way it could affect in a negative way my impersonating. Obviously I'm gonna wake up tomorrow and still be able to sound like a hundred different people, Randy Travis, Elvis and Buddy Holly. But anytime there is a conspiracy of any sort it can either do one of two things. It can destroy you or thrust you into the limelight and make you successful."
Curtis hopes for the latter.
The Elvis crooner Curtis, whose identification as a Christian has been a controversial subject for many who found it difficult to reconcile the initial charges with his faith, said he would now refrain from airing his thoughts online.
His religious views, however, are still available for all to see.
"Never been a bench warming church going judgmental hypocrite (ouch...that left a stain on a few I've met in northeast, Ms). I pray daily, treat others how I wish to be treated, lead by example, am always willing to learn & better myself daily," notes the 45-year-old on his Facebook page.
"I do my best to help others in need daily. I am sad for the ignorant of the world & pray double for them. A Christian to me...is one who is always willing to admit one's short comings to themself & to God...one who opens his or her own heart up to the 'light' that is so seldom shown in this world today. One who strives to be a better, more caring and giving person each day & one who takes steps every day to make the world a better place for our children," he added.