TEXARKANA, TX (KSLA) - A U.S. District Court judge has ordered a mental evaluation for the New Boston woman accused of mailing ricin-tainted letters to the president and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Shannon Richardson, 35, is charged with mailing a threatening communication to the President of the United States.
In U.S. District Court in Texarkana Thursday, Richardson's court appointed attorney Tonda Curry waived her client's right to a hearing on whether she should continue to be held without bond and requested the mental evaluation.
"She absolutely, absolutely firmly denies producing, making, ordering any ricin," Curry says.
U.S. District Judge Caroline Craven granted the request. The mental evaluation is expected to take place within the next 30 days.
Richardson, who is pregnant, remains in federal custody at the Titus County Jail in Mt. Pleasant.
Richardson initially blamed her estranged husband, Nathan Richardson, for sending the letters that contained low levels of ricin and were postmarked from Shreveport. She was arrested June 7, a week after federal investigators say she told them she suspected he was behind the letters. That tip led to an FBI raid on the couple's New Boston home, where investigators say they found traces of ricin and the tools and ingredients needed to make the poisonous substance.
In a statement to E! News, the aspiring actress denied any connection to the letters. "I really can't say much at all but the accusation couldn't be further from the truth." The statement went on to say, "I would not put my unborn child or other children in danger just to 'frame' someone. He simply needed someone to blame for what he has done and I was the obvious person for him to blame. Most of what is being reported in this case is absolutely inaccurate. That's all I can say. Thank you for asking for my side of this instead of running with the inaccuracies many others are publishing."
While Nathan Richardson was questioned by the FBI, he was never taken into custody and no charges have been filed against him. KSLA News 12 caught up with him outside the courthouse shortly after the hearing, but only his attorney, John Delk, would talk.
"The biggest concern is trying to get the FBI to see that he had nothing to do with what was going on," Delk says, adding that he expects that the FBI eventually will come to that conclusion.
Those letters threatened violence against gun control advocates. Court observers had hoped to hear from FBI investigators before the detention hearing was waved by Richardson's attorney.