Judge sends TX church massacre conspiracy theorist to psych ward
A woman who calls herself “Conspiracy Granny” has been committed to a psychiatric facility in a federal gun case stemming from the harassment of victims of the Sutherland Springs massacre.
Jodi Marie Mann, 56, has already spent four months in the federal prison system under mental evaluation after she was charged with her boyfriend, and a psychiatric report ordered by a judge in June found she suffered from issues that affect her understanding of reality.
After the report was recently reviewed by her lawyer, prosecutors and U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Farrer, the judge found she met the legal threshold to be declared temporarily incompetent.
RELATED: The gunman’s widow reflects on her church in Sutherland Springs
In an order issued Tuesday, Farrer committed Mann to a federal prison institution for another four months for mental health treatment. The ruling came after her latest lawyer, Jeff Mulliner, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Wannarka agreed with the report’s recommendations that Mann needed psychiatric help.
“Based on the unchallenged evidence before the Court, the undersigned finds that the record establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect such that she is ‘mentally incompetent to the extent that [s]he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against h[er] or to assist properly in h[er] defense,’” Farrer wrote in his order.
Mann wasn’t even facing federal charges to begin with over the Sutherland Springs harassment that reportedly occurred earlier this year, but her boyfriend and fellow conspiracy theorist, Robert Ussery, was.
Ussery, 54, calls himself “Side Thorn” and ran a conspiracy theory Web site with the same name. He was arrested in May on a charge of being a felon illegally possessing a gun after he and Mann had a confrontation on March 5 on the lawn of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs with Pastor Frank Pomeroy, whose daughter was among 26 worshippers slain by a gunman last year in the country’s deadliest church shooting.
Ussery allegedly claimed the mass shooting was a hoax, and law officers testified in federal court in May that it was part of a pattern of harassment against families of the church shooting victims. The confrontation resulted in state charges against the pair including resisting arrest and trespassing, which are pending.
RELATED: Relatives of nine killed in Sutherland Springs sue Air Force
During the incident, the pair had Go-Pro video equipment that recorded the encounter. That helped agents develop a separate federal case against Ussery. When federal agents reviewed the video, it showed Ussery handled a gun by the pickup the pair were in, placed it under a mat in the truck and told Mann that if there’s a question about the gun by police, Mann should claim ownership, according to prior testimony.
Ussery was convicted of felony burglary of a vehicle in 1984 in Brazoria County and is barred by federal law from possessing a gun.
In a raid at Ussery’s home in Caldwell County in May, the feds found 10 guns, including a .50-caliber rifle, two assault-style rifles, two shotguns and nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
After a grand jury reviewed the case in June, it indicted Ussery over the illegal possession of the firearms, and Mann for illegally aiding and abetting him in possessing the gun in the March 5 incident and the cache found at Ussery’s home.
At a bail hearing in May for Ussery in which bond was denied, Mann was disruptive during the proceedings and displayed other erratic behavior outside court. When the pair was indicted June 6, Mann’s-then lawyer Frank Menchaca, convinced Judge Farrer that she needed a mental evaluation because she seemed delusional, believed the church massacre never happened and might not be able to assist in her defense.
Not guilty pleas have been entered for both defendants, and Ussery is scheduled for trial on Feb. 11 before Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @gmaninfedland