WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published March 27, 2013, 09:07 PM

Woman charged with threatening lawmaker over abortion bill

A Lidgerwood woman upset about the potential ramifications of abortion-related legislation is accused of threatening to kill a state lawmaker.

By: TJ Jerke, Forum News Service

BISMARCK - A Lidgerwood woman upset about the potential ramifications of abortion-related legislation is accused of 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, $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.

An arrest warrant was issued Friday but Richland County Sheriff’s office said they have not detained Knudson, who is either 38 or 39 years old.

Phone numbers listed for Knudson were disconnected when called Wednesday.

The threat was brought to the Capitol security’s attention, who 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 or Col. James Prochniak, superintendent of the highway patrol, would comment about the specific threat made.

Sitte has taken a national 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.

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