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TJ Jerke, Forum News Service, Published March 27 2013

Woman charged with threatening to kill lawmaker over abortion bill

BISMARCK – A Lidgerwood woman who authorities say was upset about the potential ramifications of abortion-related legislation was arrested on Wednesday after being charged with threatening to kill a state lawmaker.

Richland County State’s Attorney Ron McBeth on Friday charged Nicolette Jean Knudson with threatening a public servant, a Class C felony punishable upon conviction with up to five years in jail, a fine of $5,000 or both.

Court records obtained by Forum Communications show authorities allege Knudson called Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, at 3 a.m. Feb. 27 and threatened to kill Sitte if she interfered with her attempts to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization.

Knudson was arrested around 5 p.m. Wednesday in Lidgerwood by a Richland County sherriff’s deputy, said Jordan Buffett, a corrections officer at the Richland County Jail. In addition to being charged with threatening a public servant, Knudson was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia, Buffett said.

The threat was brought to the attention of Capitol security, which forwarded the information to McBeth. The case was investigated by a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper.

North Dakota law defines threatening a public servant as someone who threatens to commit any crime or to do anything unlawful, accuse anyone of a crime, or expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, that may inflict hatred, contempt, or ridicule.

Neither McBeth nor Col. James Prochniak, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, would comment about the specific threat made.

Phone numbers listed

for Knudson were disconnected when called before the arrest Wednesday.

Sitte has taken a na-tional spotlight over her support for the anti-abortion measures that were passed by the Legislature in the past two weeks and signed into law Monday by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

She declined to comment when asked if the threat was made against her, but she immediately went to speak with Prochniak after Wednesday’s Senate floor session.

Legislation that would have specifically prohibited the willful destruction of healthy human embryos for in vitro fertilization was defeated in the House on Friday.

Prochniak said the state patrol doesn’t do anything unusual to protect threatened lawmakers but does let them know if there are any new developments in the investigation.

He said Capitol security was beefed up over the past few weeks knowing the anti-abortion measures would draw more attention to the Capitol.

Prochniak said it’s not rare for the public to make comments to lawmakers and officials that are worth investigating.

“It’s not as if this is the only one. Every legislative session we come across where somebody is very passionate about whatever situation. We will follow up and make a determination if it is something worth passing along to a state attorney’s office,” he said.

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Reporters Robin Heubner, Wendy Reuer, Charly Haley and Emily Welker contributed to this story.