Federal magistrate to hear update on Georgetown ricin suspect

WASHINGTON — Georgetown University sophomore Daniel Milzman, whom prosecutors say was partly inspired by the HBO series “Breaking Bad,” has been in D.C. jail since March 21 accused of making the biological toxin ricin in his dorm room.

A status hearing is scheduled Thursday, in which lawyers for both sides will tell a federal magistrate where the case stands.

While government prosecutors don’t comment on the possibility of any plea negotiations, a source close to the case tells WTOP that defense lawyers and government prosecutors are in regular communication, discussing a possible plea agreement. The source says Milzman’s defense team is hoping to head off a federal indictment.

The 2012 graduate of Bethesda’s Walt Whitman High School is undergoing psychiatric care while he’s behind bars and he has been under suicide watch.

Prosecutors say in court documents that Milzman learned to make the deadly toxin from online sources as well as from one of his favorite television shows, “Breaking Bad.” He’s accused of purchasing the ingredients from local stores, including Home Depot and American Plant Food Company.

A Georgetown resident adviser told investigators Milzman tossed a double-sealed plastic bag of the grayish powder at his feet. The FBI says laboratory testing indicated the substance was ricin and capable of killing.

Last month a federal judge, ruling that Milzman remains a danger to the community, upheld a government appeal to keep Milzman in pre-trial detention.

Milzman is charged with violating the federal prohibition against possessing a deadly biological toxin. If convicted he could face at least 10 years in prison. Prosecutors and defense lawyers are scheduled to appear today at a status hearing before Magistrate Alan Kay.

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