Big Sky Roundup

U.S. Attorney: Kalispell man charged with making threats to kill U.S. Sen. Jon Tester

By: - February 24, 2023 12:44 pm

Photo illustration by Getty Images.

A Kalispell man accused of threatening to injure and murder Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester was arraigned on Feb. 23 on an indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday in a news release.

Kevin Patrick Smith, 45, pleaded not guilty to an indictment filed on Feb. 22 charging him with two counts of threats to injure and murder a United States senator, the news release said.

If convicted of the most serious crime, Smith faces 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Smith was detained pending further proceedings.

The news release detailed the following, citing court documents:

On Jan. 30, Smith allegedly made numerous threatening calls to Sen. Tester by phone, leaving voicemails at Sen. Tester’s office in Kalispell. In one instance, Smith stated:

“There is nothing I want more than to have you stand toe to toe with me. You stand toe to toe with me. I rip your head off. You die. You stand in a situation where it is physical between you and me. You die.

“I will never stop. … And I would love to destroy you and rip your (obscenity) head from your shoulders. That is no problem. Call that a threat. Send the FBI.

“I would love to (obscenity) kill you. I would love to see your FBI at my door. I would love to see something in the news.”

According to court documents, Smith allegedly acknowledged in the recording that he threatened Sen. Tester, and such threats were “on purpose.”

Court documents further allege that on Feb. 1, the FBI contacted Smith and instructed him not to threaten physical violence toward Sen. Tester. On Feb. 10, Smith again called Sen. Tester, stating in one voice message, “I want you to understand. If I ever pull my trigger, I know what dies.”

As further alleged in the indictment, Smith stated in another voicemail, “It is important for you to understand that I won’t live under your rule.…If it becomes time that I die, I’d take a significant number with me.”

Tester is a Democrat and Montana’s senior senator. He announced this week he will seek a fourth term in 2024.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, the news release said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and U.S. Capitol Police.

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