Sharon Burton

Sharon Johnson Burton

A mental evaluation was ordered on Monday for a Rural Retreat woman accused of using her Twitter account to threaten a federal judge.

Sharon Johnson Burton, 54, is being held in the Western Virginia Regional Jail in Salem on a two-count federal indictment handed down June 27 in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

According to the indictment, Burton posted messages on Twitter on June 14 threatening to assault U.S. District Court Judge James P. Jones, the same judge who found her guilty of federal drug and gun charges in 2008.

At her arraignment on Monday, Burton was given a court-appointed attorney and ordered to undergo an evaluation to see if she’s competent to stand trial. The evaluation will also consider her sanity at the time of the allegations, according to court records.

A U.S. magistrate judge recommended sending Burton to a federal institution in North Carolina for hospitalization and treatment.

In court documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou wrote that Burton “has been very soft-spoken and does not make eye contact here in court today. Defendant has used internet program excessively.”

A Facebook account in Burton’s name contains numerous – sometimes cryptic -- posts about police, Jesus, Trump, Putin and the Bible.

“Holy Water needs a gallon a year its (sic) just on this day with some special ash it tell us who make IT proper to and use Q-Tip,” read a Feb. 14, 2018, post.

“I hate Rural Retreat VA,” read another.

In 2008, Burton was convicted of federal charges of possessing cocaine and methamphetamine with the intent to distribute them, and being a felon and unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm.

She was sentenced to 63 months in prison with credit for time served while awaiting trial on similar state charges that were later dropped.

After her release, Burton was ordered in 2017 to submit to a mental health as part of her probation, according to court records. Judge Jones signed the order.

In 2003, Burton, then a Bland County resident, was charged with attempting to possess a firearm after being convicted of a felony and making a false statement on a firearms consent form.

When the case went to trial in Wythe County Circuit Court, the commonwealth dropped the attempting to possess a firearm charge, and Burton was convicted of making a false statement.

She was given a two-year suspended jail sentence and placed on probation for a year.

According to documents in the Wythe file, Burton was convicted of theft of property in Alabama in 1989 and ordered to pay $200 in restitution to The Video Station in Muscle Shoals.

Her bond paperwork at the time said her prior criminal record also included charges of trespassing, forgery and uttering.

Jeffrey Simmons can be reached at 228-6611, extension 19, or

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