U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard Roberts delayed a ruling Wednesday on the U.S. government’s appeal to keep in custody Daniel Milzman (COL ’16), who is charged with possession of a biological toxin after producing ricin in his McCarthy Hall dorm room.
A hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 31 at 12 p.m., at which point Roberts will decide whether to release Milzman, 19, into his parents’ care and psychiatric treatment at Sibley Memorial Hospital or to return him to D.C. Jail, where he has been held since his arrest Friday.
The prosecution, led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maia Miller, filed an appeal midday Wednesday after Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola ruled that Milzman be released pending trial in a detention hearing Tuesday.
At the hearing Wednesday, which began around 4:45 p.m., Miller and Milzman’s attorney, Danny Onorato, both presented lines of argument similar to those made yesterday, expanding on a few key points. Onorato described Milzman as a “19-year-old child” who made ricin in an effort to commit suicide without his parents finding out, as ricin mimics “flu-like symptoms” when it causes death. Miller again referred to Milzman as an “unstable, reckless and dangerous individual” who remains a danger to the community.
In the government’s appeal, Miller provided more context about Milzman’s stated knowledge about ricin, which he told law enforcement he learned about through his Quiz Bowl team and the television show “Breaking Bad.” In court documents and in her presentation to Roberts, Miller emphasized that in the context of “Breaking Bad,” ricin has always been used as a method of killing another person, and never as a means of suicide. When responding to this evidence, Onorato said, “I don’t watch the same television shows as the government,” and moved on to Milzman’s fragile mental state.
Roberts requested information from both attorneys about the quality of mental health care in D.C. Jail and Sibley Memorial Hospital, respectively.
Approximately 60 people — slightly fewer than yesterday — attended the hearing, which was only scheduled about two hours before it began.