TODAY   |  June 13, 2013

Man framed for ricin letters: ‘It was like a bad dream’

Actress and mother of five Shannon Guess Richardson has been arrested and charged with sending letters laced with ricin to President Obama, trying to implicate her husband, Nate Richardson. TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie reports and Richardson expresses his “disbelief” over the accusations.

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>>> this half hour with new details on a story we've been following. a pregnant mother of five arrested and charged with sending letters laced with the poison ricin to the president and other leaders. authorities said she did it to try to implicate her husband in the crime. we'll talk live to him in just a moment. first, how these strange events unfolded. until last month, shannon richardson was best known for small acting roles, like on amc's "the walking dead ." but the plot she's accused of now sounds like it was lifted from another show.

>> we are going to process them into ricin.

>> shannon richardson contacted federal authorities after threatening letters that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin were discovered. they'd been mailed to president obama , a washington lobbyist, and new york city mayor michael bloomberg .

>> the letter, in essence, complains about gun control and says that anyone who comes for my gun will be shot in the face.

>> officials say richardson told them her estranged husband nathaniel, an army veteran, had been behind the poison letters. fbi agents searched the couple's home in new boston, texas, 95 miles from shreveport, louisiana, where the letters were postmarked. after authorities say she failed a polygraph test, richardson was arrested and charged with sending the letters herself in an attempt to frame her husband. she has yet to enter a plea, but her attorneys say she'll plead not guilty. nate richardson is with us now along with his attorney john delk. gentlemen, good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> nate , let's go back to the beginning when federal authorities came to you and said your wife had implicated you in sending these letters with ricin. what was your first reaction?

>> well, it was kind of like disbelief, or it was like a bad dream .

>> were you afraid that you might be arrested and charged?

>> well, a lot of times, fbi kind of jumps to conclusions, but they were very thorough, very respectful, and just not really moving too quickly.

>> were you shocked that an accusation like that would come from your own wife? i know you were going through some marital troubles, but that said, was this not pretty surprising?

>> oh, yes, very surprising, very surprising.

>> did you think she was capable of something like that?

>> well, really, you don't sit there and think about what people would do to you, but i just really didn't know, couldn't tell.

>> take me back into that interrogation room. as i understand it, you were questioned for almost 11 hours. what did they say? what was that scene like?

>> i can't go into the actual specifics of what questions, but it was -- they were just very thorough. they asked all kinds of questions. you know, when you don't know anything, it just seems really strange to hear some of them.

>> according to the affidavit, there were computer searches related to ricin found on the home computer . they later found some castor beans , which is an ingredient in ricin, in your car. your wife now claims to the authorities that, yes, she sent the letters, about ybut you forced her to. so let's get on the record about this. did you have anything to do with these letters sent to president obama and others?

>> no, ma'am.

>> john, do you feel your client is out of the woods in terms of this investigation?

>> i wouldn't say out of the woods. i'd say we're close to the edge of the woods. there are small areas that we still need to mop up with the fbi, but i think they're pretty clear how they feel who did this. one person's been arrested. one person hasn't. one person's cooperating and answering all their questions. one person is in jail this morning.

>> your wife is pregnant. you are expecting a baby. do you worry about her alleged handling of some of these dangerous materials and what effect that might have?

>> well, basically, we have to cross that bridge when we come to it.

>> are you surprised that she, according to authorities, would even be capable, in other words, have the technical know how to make this poison?

>> she's a very intelligent woman. that is definitely one of the qualities i did find attractive in her.

>> and what do you hope happens here? what do you think her punishment should be, if she is found guilty?

>> that's not really for me to decide. i'm more worried about getting back to my normal life .

>> nate richardson , thank you for being here telling us your story. john delk, we appreciate