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Judge: Georgetown ricin suspect must stay behind bars

Monday - 3/31/2014, 4:26pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Milzman, the Georgetown University student accused of making ricin toxin in his dorm, must stay behind bars, U.S. District Court Chief Richard Roberts ruled Monday.

"The ricin he made could have killed someone," Roberts said during a hearing.

In ruling that there was probable cause to hold Milzman, Roberts said he saw the 19-year-old sophomore as a potential danger to the community.

Roberts said even though there's evidence that Milzman may be suicidal and a threat to himself, the judge said he doesn't see evidence that Milzman only meant to harm himself.

"It does not eliminate the possibility that he meant to hurt others," Roberts said.

Roberts pointed out that Milzman told the FBI he learned about ricin from the Netflix show, "Breaking Bad." In the show the ricin was intended to harm others, the judge said.

While Roberts said the weight of the evidence is for continued detention, he did concede Milzman's history and characteristics do not weigh in favor of detention. Milzman does not have a criminal record and has family and community ties to the area.

Milzman has been held in pre-detention at a D.C. jail for 13 days but has not yet been indicted on federal charges. He was charged March 18 with making the biological toxin in his sixth-floor dorm room.

Milzman's mother sobbed at the end of the briefing court session.

Milzman is accused of obtaining the ricin ingredients at area stores, including Home Depot and American Plant. Then, wearing eye goggles and a dust mask in his room in Georgetown's McCarthy Hall, Milzman manufactured the deadly toxin from castor beans.

During the hearing, Milzman's defense attorney said Milzman would harm no one.

Prosecutors had appealed an earlier order that all would have allowed Milzman to be released, provided he went to Sibley Memorial Hospital for two weeks of psychiatric care.

The prosecutors, in their appeal, said Milzman may have intended to use the ricin against a fellow student and say there are no conditions of release that could ensure the safety of the community.

Milzman's defense lawyer has said the 2012 graduate of Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School struggles with mental health issues, and that Milzman intended to attempt suicide with the ricin and had no plan to harm others.

Ruling that Milzman must remain in pre-trial detention, Judge Roberts invited defense lawyers to reach out to private psychiatrists who may be willing to provide treatment to the defendant while he remains confined in DC Jail, under suicide watch.

In their failed bid to win their son's release, Milzman's parents, both physicians, had arranged for two weeks of psychiatric care at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

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WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this story. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on WTOP Facebook page.

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