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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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Chief Suspect in Texas Ricin Case Will Get Psych Evaluation

A Texan woman who is the chief suspect in a federal investigation aimed at identifying the sender of one batch of ricin-filled envelopes to President Obama and other prominent public figures will undergo a psychological evaluation at the request of her public defender, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

Shannon Richardson is charged with mailing threatening letters to the president and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, though she initially came forward to authorities to accuse her estranged husband of sending the ricin. Richardson, who is pregnant, maintains that she sent the letters because her husband coerced her. The mental health assessment is to take place potentially in the next month; the results will be used to make a decision on whether she can participate in her own defense.

Her court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, emphasized to journalists that she is prepared to mount a "vigorous defense" to any formal accusation that Richardson enclosed ricin in the threatening letters.

In a separate federal ricin investigation surrounding a Spokane, Wash. man, prosecutors are expected to have to overcome the legal hurdle of showing that the five letters allegedly mailed by suspect Matthew Ryan Buquet actually contained the biotoxin, which is derived from castor beans, the Spokesman Review reported on Thursday.

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