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Canada Nova Scotia’s ‘Internet Black Widow’ pleads not guilty to breach charges

Melissa Ann Shepard, known as the Internet Black Widow, arrives at court in Dartmouth, N.S., on March 15, 2016.

Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An elderly woman who gained notoriety for killing and poisoning her intimate partners has pleaded not guilty to violating the conditions of a peace bond.

Melissa Shepard, known as the "Internet Black Widow," did not appear in Halifax provincial court Thursday, but her lawyer Mark Knox entered not guilty pleas on her behalf.

Knox says the 82-year-old woman's trial has been set for Feb. 1.

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Shepard was charged with violating the terms of a peace bond in April after a police officer allegedly spotted her using a computer at Halifax Central Library.

She is facing three counts of breaching a recognizance, including a ban on accessing the Internet.

Shepard was released March 18 after having served a full sentence of just under three years for spiking newlywed husband Fred Weeks's coffee with tranquilizers in 2012.

A court imposed 22 conditions on her, including that she keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Police issued a public warning when Shepard was released, stating that she is considered a high risk to reoffend.

Shepard has a history of offences dating back to the early 1990s, according to police.

She has been known to change her appearance and court documents indicate she has also used multiple names and has had several other brushes with the law over the years.

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Previous last names include that of her former husband Robert Edmund Friedrich, who died in 2002, and of her second husband Gordon Stewart.

Stewart died after he was drugged and run over twice with a car. Shepard was convicted of manslaughter in his death in 1992.

She was also handed a five-year prison sentence in 2005 on seven counts of theft from a man in Florida who she had met online.

Prior to her recent release, a parole board report said Shepard tended to fabricate and deny events to correctional staff and is unable to link consequences to actions.

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