Shannon Richardson found competent to stand trial in ricin case

Published: Aug. 28, 2013 at 2:44 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 11, 2013 at 6:02 PM CDT
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TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - A federal judge has ruled that a northeast Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is competent to stand trial.

Authorities say Shannon Guess Richardson, charged with two counts of mailing a threatening communication and one count of making a threat against the president of the United States, also sent a poison-tainted letter to a man who heads Bloomberg's gun-control organization. She pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning.

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.

Nathan Richardson was questioned, but never charged.

Richardson's court-appointed attorney Tonda Curry requested the mental evaluation at a bond hearing in June. The judge granted that request and ordered it to take place with in 30 days.

During that bond hearing, Curry told the court that "She absolutely, absolutely firmly denies producing, making, ordering any ricin." Richardson also waived her right to a bond hearing at that time. Now that she has been found competent to stand trial, her attorney is expected to ask that bond be set at a hearing scheduled for September 11.

Wednesday's hearing comes one day after a hearing in civil court, where a judge granted temporary custody of the couple's newborn son to Nathaniel Richardson, who has filed for divorce.

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