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convictions of former Virginia neurologist Ray Mettetal(mett-uh-tal) Junior.A three-judge panel in Richmond said yesterday that the evidenceused to convict Mettetal of plotting to poison his former boss atVanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, was illegallyseized.Mettetal is a former Harrisonburg doctor who also trained at theUniversity of Virginia.A jury first convicted Mettetal in 1998 and again last year ofpossessing the toxin, ricin (RYE'-sin), to use as a weapon and ofhaving fake identifications.The panel said Mettetal's arrest in Nashville was illegal.Virginia investigators later found the toxin and other evidence
served his prison sentence -- imposed earlier this year -- and is living in Tennessee.
(Norfolk-AP) -- Norfolk authorities say humane officers seized asmall menagerie of dogs, exotic birds and reptiles a Norfolk homeafter officers investigating a complaint got lightheaded from thesmell inside the house.Officers took eleven dogs and several exotic birds from the homeyesterday.
2002: Ray W. Mettetal Jr., a former Tennessee neurologist, is sentenced to 51/2 years in prison for possessing ricin for use as a weapon; the conviction is overturned because the evidence was illegally seized.Prosecutors suggested he distilled the ricin from castor beans and may have planned to kill his former boss for ruining his chances of becoming a neurosurgeon.
DailyProgress.com | Cleared doctor seeks test of alleged poison
The 53-year-old Mettetal now lives in Johnson City, Tenn., and has since practiced medicine only through his church,s missionary work in Mexico.Mettetal hopes to again practice in the United States, but argues that his reputation is tainted, and that the public believes he was freed on a technicality.Mettetal
filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville this week asking that the powder police discovered in a storage locker in Harrisonburg be tested on mice.Mouse testing, Mettetal
said, is the ,gold standard, of toxicology testing.
,I want something done on this,, Mettetal
said in a telephone interview.
The doctor said he
would foot the bill for the tests and has already found an independent lab in New Jersey that would conduct the analysis.The FBI
now holds the substance, Mettetal
said, and authorities have refused further tests, citing safety concerns involved in shipping the powder.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment.
,Why have they opposed this?They have fought this tooth and nail,, Mettetal
was arrested in August 1995 on the Vanderbilt campus in Nashville and charged with trespassing.He
was wearing a wig, fake beard, padded suit and shoes with lifts.Mettetal
carried false identification and a large syringe containing saline solution, boric acid and other chemicals.
Authorities said Mettetal
sought to kill Allen, chief of neurosurgery at Vanderbilt, for not giving him the recommendations he
would need to pursue a career as a brain surgeon.Mettetal settled for being a neurologist, a doctor who treats brain problems but doesn,t operate.
was indicted on the federal charges in 1996, he
was assisting in brain surgery at a private practice in Harrisonburg.He
was also charged with attempted murder in Nashville.Mettetal
testified at a 1998 trial in federal court that he
was simply playing out a fantasy to release anger in the ,harmless, plot to kill Allen.Prosecutors said he
stalked the doctor, read books describing how to kill and concocted a batch of ricin - an odorless, tasteless and extremely toxic poison derived from castor bean seeds.A jury convicted Mettetal, and Judge James H. Michael Jr. sentenced the doctor to 10 years in prison.
One year later, a judge in Nashville ruled that Mettetal
should not have been arrested because the Vanderbilt campus is open to the public and university police had insufficient cause to arrest Mettetal
on trespassing charges.
As a result of the ruling, the attempted murder charge was dropped.The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond also tossed the federal convictions against Mettetal
, ruling that the poison and other evidence discovered in searches subsequent to the arrest couldn,t be used against him.
At a retrial in 2001, the defense disputed that the powder in Mettetal
,s locker was ricin.A defense expert testified that he
could not be sure, and suspected it could be from another plant or be a non-toxic form of ground-up castor beans.Mettetal
was convicted again, however, and sentenced to five years and five months in prison, the bulk of which he
had already served.
In September 2002, the doctor filed another appeal, arguing that the evidence in the second trial shouldn,t have been allowed.The court agreed, overturning his
conviction and barring any future use of the evidence against Mettetal
lawyers ,time and time again, to have the powder tested but said they were focused on arguing his
is certain that toxicity tests will prove the ,bean dust, is not deadly.
,Basically, I am confident and I,ve always been confident that I,ve been falsely accused,, he
Jury convicts man in poisoning scheme
The federal jury deliberated about 90 minutes before finding Ray W. Mettetal Jr. guilty of possessing poison for use as a weapon and possessing false identification.No sentencing date was set.Mettetal , 50 , could receive up to life in prison.
This was his
second conviction in the case.The first verdict in 1998 was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Federal prosecutors said Mettetal
planned an elaborate scheme to poison his
former supervisor out of revenge for dismissing him from Vanderbilt's neurosurgery program in the mid-1980s.
was convicted of possessing the deadly poison ricin.
A toxicologist called by defense lawyers Thursday questioned whether the powder Mettetal was accused of possessing for use as a weapon was poison at all.
did not testify , but in a transcript read in court of his
testimony in his
1998 trial , he
made ricin but said he
had no plans to use it.Mettetal
said then he
used a blender to turn castor beans into ricin.
Police arrested Mettetal
at the school because he
was wearing a frizzy wig , a peeling , fake beard and a three-piece suit padded at the belly.He
was carrying a bag with fake identification cards and a syringe.No poison was found in the bag.By then , Mettetal was a neurologist in Harrisonburg
Harrisonburg police , acting on a tip , found the ricin in the locker.Mettetal
was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison , but that conviction was thrown out last year when the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Vanderbilt police had no probable cause to arrest him.
Mettetal's lawyers argued his
original arrest for trespassing was illegal because Mettetal
was on a public sidewalk.
Prosecutors decided to retry Mettetal
after U.S. District Judge J. Harry Michael Jr. ruled that the evidence in Virginia could be allowed at trial-based on the good faith exception- - that Virginia police officers acted legally and were unaware the search warrant was based on an illegal arrest.
has served almost five years in jail and prison since his
had been free on bond and was taken into custody following the verdict.He
automatically lost his
license to practice medicine with the verdict.
Copyright © 2001 , Daily Press
Dr. Ray W. Mettetal, Jr., a ...
Dr. Ray W. Mettetal, Jr., a neurologist in Virginia, was found in possession of ricin after arrest on another issue: 1995