MISSOULA - A Kalispell man is accused of threatening to kill Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester.
Kevin Patrick Smith, 45, is charged with two counts of "threats to injure and murder a United States Senator," a felony.
Smith pleaded not guilty to those charges in U.S. District Court in Missoula Thursday afternoon.
In the indictment, prosecutors say on Jan. 30, 2023, Smith made numerous threatening calls to Sen. Tester by phone, leaving voicemails at his Kalispell office.
In one instance Smith stated, "there is nothing 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 f***ing head from your shoulders. That is no problem. Call that a threat. Send the FBI."
Smith acknowledged in the recording that he threatened Sen. Tester and that such threats were "on purpose".
On Feb. 1, 2023, the FBI contacted the defendant and instructed him not to threaten physical violence toward Sen. Tester. Then on Feb. 10, 2023, 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."
In another voicemail received on the same date, Smith stated:
"No one with any understanding of anything pulls the trigger. Unless they know what they're shooting at. I guaran-dodamn-tee you. My trigger doesn't get pulled until I know what I'm shooting at. And when I know what I'm shooting at, and I've decided it's dead, it gets pulled. And there's no if ands or buts about it. And there's no coming back from that."
Smith was arrested by law enforcement in Kalispell on Wednesday.
Smith's preliminary pretrial conference is set for March 8 before Judge Dana L. Christensen.
Information from Jill Valley included in this report.