Judge: Georgetown U Student Alleged to Have Ricin Must Stay in Jail

Parents, family, friends pack courtroom Monday.

A judge ordered Monday that Daniel Milzman, 19, accused of making ricin in his college dorm, must remain in jail.
A judge ordered Monday that Daniel Milzman, 19, accused of making ricin in his college dorm, must remain in jail.
A judge ruled Monday in a packed courtroom that a Georgetown University student accused of making ricin, a toxic poison, must remain in jail, the Washington Post reported.

Student Daniel Milzman, 19, was arrested March 18 and charged with making the biological toxin in his sixth- floor dorm room. The courtroom was filled with friends and family including his parents, both doctors and his two brothers, the Post reported.

The federal judge's ruling Monday overrules a magistrate judge's order that would have allowed Milzman to enter a psychiatric program, the Post story said.

Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts was concerned, the Post reported, that the sophomore may have gotten the idea to create ricin from watching "Breaking Bad," the popular TV show. In the show, the protagonist uses ricin to poison his enemy, not to commit suicide.

The Post story also notes that Milzman reportedly had a conversation with someone telling them he was not a threat to himself, but that he was "definitely a threat to someone."

The judge also said that if the student is suffering from depression that doesn't rule out him harming others, the paper said.

In his room in McCarthy Hall on the Georgetown campus, the FBI says, Milzman manufactured the deadly toxin from castor beans.

In a memorandum to the court asking that Milzman remain in pre-trial detention, WTOP reported, prosecutors say "there is evidence indicating that his purpose in creating this poison was to use it against another person."

Further the memorandum states that Milzman first learned about ricin in Quiz Bowl, a competitive question and answer group he founded at Georgetown, and from online sources like Wikipedia as well as the TV show.

At his detention hearing last week in federal court, Asst. U.S. Attorney Maia Miller and defense lawyer Danny Onorato battled over whether Milzman was a danger to the community.

"He made a substance than can kill people and he made it in a public dorm room," Assistant U.S. Attorney Maia Miller told federal Magistrate John Facciola in federal court Tuesday, WTOP reported.

"He intended to cause harm in the worst way, to himself or someone else," she argued.

Defense lawyer Onorato said Milzman intended to make a suicide attempt with the ricin and had no intention of harming anyone else.

"He was a scared 19-year-old," Onorato told the judge. "This was a cry for help."

The judge ruled Milzman should be released to home confinement, but required that his parents take him to Sibley Memorial Hospital for two weeks of psychiatric care. Then, Milzman was ordered to be taken home and not left alone.

Prosecutors immediately requested a 24-hour stay to appeal the decision, which the judge granted.


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