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Closed hearing in ricin case - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Closed hearing in ricin case

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The Texarkana Gazette reports A New Boston, Texas, woman who mailed ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and others last year appeared at a closed hearing in federal court Thursday morning.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven opened the hearing by instructing members of the media and public to leave the courtroom.

Shannon Guess Richardson's lawyer, Tonda Curry, said she could not comment specifically about the hearing, which docket entries in the case indicate was held to address a sealed motion Richardson filed on her own behalf last month.

"You won't see any change in the case status as a result of the hearing today," Curry said. "This didn't have any impact on the case going forward."

Richardson, 36, pleaded guilty in November to producing a biological agent for use as a weapon. At the November hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan said the government and defense agreed to an 18-year prison term for Richardson. She has been in the custody of U.S. Marshals since her arrest last summer.

A date for formal sentencing in Richardson's case will be set once the court has received a pre-sentence report detailing information about Richardson's life, educational and employment history, family background and a recommendation for sentencing under federal guidelines. The report is meant to aid the court in determining whether specific programs at the Bureau of Prisons might benefit the defendant and provide the court guidance in sentencing.

Curry said Richardson's pre-sentence report is taking a little longer than is typical because of the unique nature of Richardson's crime.

Richardson mailed threatening letters drenched in an oily, pink substance later determined to be ricin to Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomburg and Mark Glaze, the head of a gun control advocacy group from New Boston in May last year. All three letters bore a May 20, Shreveport, La., postmark.

Richardson initially tried to blame the letters and toxin on her husband. Polygraph results showed the then-pregnant Richardson wasn't being truthful. Richardson eventually admitted to concocting the poison in the home she shared with her husband and four children from a previous marriage. Those four children are living out of state with their father, Curry said. The infant Richardson prematurely gave birth to July 4 is in the custody of his biological father.

After Thursday's hearing, Curry responded to a reporter's question about others possibly being charged in connection with the ricin letters.

"I hope so," Curry said.

When pressed for more details, Curry said she could not speak about an ongoing investigation.

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