In the last few weeks, we have seen a disturbing uptick of reported threats against public figures, grand jurors, and judges. One of the most disturbing and disgraceful are threats against Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, who will be presiding in the trial of former president Donald Trump. Abigail Jo Shry, 43, of Alvin, Tex., allegedly left an Aug. 5 voice mail at Chutkan’s chambers in which she called her a racial slur and threatened her, saying, “If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly, b—-.” That same week, there was also a sentencing in a prior case where the threat led to an attempt on the life of Trump. Pascale Cecile Veronique Ferrier, 56, has been sentenced to 262 months or roughly 22 years for mailing ricin to Trump. What makes her case even more striking is the defense raised by her lawyer.
Ferrier is a dual citizen of Canada and France. She pleaded guilty to sending a letter containing ricin in 2020 to then-President Trump and others.
In the letter, Ferrier referred to Trump as “The Ugly Tyrant Clown” and added that “[i]f it doesn’t work, I’ll find better recipe for another poison, or I might use my gun when I’ll be able to come. Enjoy! FREE REBEL SPIRIT.”
The threat of the gun became even more chilling when Ferrier was arrested after she tried to drive across the U.S.-Canada border at the Peace Bridge Border Crossing in Buffalo, New York. She had a gun, a knife, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Ferrier apparently made the ricin in her home in Quebec. When she was arrested later for refusing to leave a park after it closed, police found eight similar letters sent to law enforcement officials in charge of the Texas jail where she was held. In one letter, she instructed Trump to “[g]ive up and remove [his] application for this election.”
She was also active on social media with one posting on X asking for someone to “please shoot [T]rump in the face.”
In court, Ferrier insisted that she considers herself a “peaceful and genuinely kind person” but admitted she gets angry about problems like unfairness, abuses of power and “stupid rules.” She insisted that she is an “activist” rather than a “terrorist” who wants “to find peaceful means to achieve my goals.” That hardly jibes with the ricin and traveling arsenal.
In court, Ferrier’s defense attorney Eugene Ohm offered a curious defense that his client is “inordinately intelligent” and earned a master’s degree in engineering while raising two children as a single parent.
The homicidal-but-smart defense did not work.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich handed down the 262-month sentence.