Attorney: New Boston man questioned in ricin investigation "married the wrong person"

Reports: Ricin letters sent to NYC mayor, gun control group, came from Shreveport
Neither Nathan nor Shannon Richardson have been seen since they were spotted at the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana on Friday.
Neither Nathan nor Shannon Richardson have been seen since they were spotted at the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana on Friday.
Happier times: Nathan and Shannon Richardson (Source: Facebook)
Happier times: Nathan and Shannon Richardson (Source: Facebook)

BOWIE CO., TX (KSLA) - The attorney for the man at the center of the latest federal ricin letter investigation says his client "married the wrong person," and is working to prove his innocence.

Nathan Richardson filed for divorce from Shannon Richardson in Bowie County District Court on Thursday morning.

According to the petition for divorce, Nathaniel and Shannon Richardson were married "on or about October 8, 2011, and are not currently separated."

"He initially came in about a year ago and talked to me about a divorce," explains Texarkana attorney John Delk, but he says Richardson "didn't go through with it at that point."

That would mean that the two were only married a matter of months before Nathan Richardson first approached Delk about the possibility of divorce, and that Nathan and Shannon were still living together until last week.

Then, last month, Richardson returned. Delk says he explained that, under Texas law, he would not be able to finalize the divorce while his wife was pregnant. Richardson hired him anyway. "He wanted to go ahead and get us working on it for him."

Just a few weeks later, Richardson would find himself in need of even more legal advice, after federal agents raided his home in the Twin Oaks subdivision in New Boston that he shared with Shannon Richardson and four children.

That was last Thursday. The FBI agents, along with U.S. Postal Service inspectors, have come and gone and come back again, setting up tents and donning biohazard suits. They've taken items from the home, including computer equipment. More than a week later, it's still cordoned off, guarded by law enforcement as the investigation continues.

A law enforcement official has told the Associated Press that the FBI initiated the search of the home after being contacted by the resident's spouse. The official wasn't authorized to disclose information about the probe and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

CBS News has also reported that Shannon Richardson told police her husband may have sent the ricin-laced letters to President Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Washington D.C.-based gun control group.

Delk on Thursday appeared to confirm some of that, telling KSLA News 12 "I don't think that there's a very big leap from him being innocent to him being set up. I know he didn't do it, according to what we believe, and you know, there are very few people who could have done it, so take that for what it's worth."

While Delk says he cannot confirm that it was Shannon who turned her husband in, he does say that Nathan himself didn't call authorities, and that he had nothing to do with the letters. "I anticipate that we will be successful in not only proving that not guilty, but showing that he's innocent of any culpability in this."

Delk won't comment on whether anything has been found in the home. He says his client is staying with family, and "is asking that people respect his privacy as he tries to go through and endure this ordeal that he's going through."

"I'm happy that our system presumes that someone is innocent until they're proven guilty, and while it may not be so in the public at large as far as that, that standard, I am happy to say that there has been no rush to judgement in the federal authorities and law enforcement as they work through this, and they have been open to listening to what my client has to say and what we've done to show that he is in fact not culpable in this."

Delk says Richardson is cooperating with authorities, and looks forward to a time when his client can return to a normal life. "I expect at some point that someone is going to have to answer for what was done here, and I don't expect it to be my client," Delk adds.

Both the Richardsons have reportedly been questioned by the FBI.

All the FBI spokesperson will say is that the investigation is ongoing and no one is in custody, and no arrests have been made in connection with the activity in New Boston.

As for the grounds for divorce, the petition filed Thursday states that "The marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities between Petitioner and Respondent that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation."

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