Government Appeals Decision to Release Georgetown Ricin Suspect

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The defense and prosecution argued Tuesday over whether the Georgetown University ricin suspect should be released while he waits for trial. (Courtroom sketches by Bill Hennessy.) (Published Tuesday, Mar 25, 2014)

    The family of a Georgetown University student accused of making ricin in his dorm room hoped to make arrangements for his release, but federal prosecutors say there are no conditions under which he can safely be released.

    The parents of Daniel Milzman, a freshman from Bethesda, Md., went to federal court Tuesday hoping to get the 19-year-old released while he awaits trial for possessing a biological toxin.

    A prosecutor argued Milzman should be kept in custody as a danger to the community, saying ricin is lethal. The case against him is exceptionally strong, and he engaged in some of the most nefarious and calculating behavior imaginable.

    Milzman's motive for making ricin was ambiguous, prosecutors said. He either wanted to use it to commit suicide or harm someone else -- a Georgetown student with whom Milzman didn’t get along. Both asked the university to order the other to stay away.

    Prosecutors said Milzman taunted the other student on Facebook, posting, "You would be more use to the world if you were chemically dismembered and your parts sold to a lab."

    Milzman's attorney said he never intended to hurt anyone else. Milzman went to his resident adviser revealing he made ricin as a "cry for help" from a scared 19-year-old kid.

    Milzman’s family had made arrangements with Sibley Hospital for him to undergo two weeks of psychiatric evaluation. Federal Magistrate John Ficcola was ready to order Milzman released for the evaluation then into the custody of his parents, directing them not to leave him alone.

    But the government said it would appeal the judge’s decision.

    Milzman graduated from Walt Whitman High School with honors in 2012.