Paragould Man Convicted of Anthrax Hoax Wins Sentencing Appeal

February 5, 2004 - Posted at 6:45 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A federal appeals panel has ruled a federal judge erred in imposing a stiffer sentence on a man who phoned in an anthrax threat to a Paragould school.  The threat came the month following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the East Coast.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals in St. Louis has sent the case of Christopher Martin Cole of Paragould back to U.S. District Court Judge Bill Wilson's court for resentencing.

The appeals panel said the circumstances of the crime presented in court didn't call for a sentence greater than the six to 12 months set out in the federal guidelines.

Cole pleaded guilty in August 2002 to transmitting a threat by interstate commerce.  Wilson sentenced him to two years in prison.

Wilson denied Cole's request for a lesser sentence on testimony from a psychiatrist that he is borderline mentally retarded and could be more vulnerable in prison than other inmates.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)