A 46-year-old Kalispell man who admitted he threatened to kill Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester was sentenced Thursday to two-and-a-half years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Kevin Patrick Smith pleaded guilty in April to threats to murder a United States Senator before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen.
According to court documents, Smith left numerous threatening voicemails to Sen. Tester at his Kalispell office on Jan. 30, saying, “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.”
In another message, Smith said, “I would love to (expletive) kill you. I would love to see your FBI at my door. I would love to see something in the news.”
Smith left about 60 voicemails for Tester, which led the United States Capital Police and the FBI to investigate him. Despite warnings to stop making threatening calls to public officials, Smith continued and acknowledged in recordings that his threats were “on purpose,” and he made them because he was upset with Tester’s political decisions.
After Smith’s arrest, law enforcement searched his residence and recovered 19 firearms, including four shotguns, five rifles, eight pistols, a home-made silencer and 1,186 rounds of ammunition.
In court, the government acknowledged that public discourse is the cornerstone of a free society and that criticism, disagreement and even disdain are acceptable methods of expression, and they are constitutionally protected.
“But there is a line. And Kevin Patrick Smith crossed that line – repeatedly,” the government said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon prosecuted the case.
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