A Bangor woman charged last year with threatening to kill and decapitate U.S. Sen. Susan Collins was found not competent to stand trial Tuesday.
Katrina F. Preble, 56, allegedly left a series of voicemails on the senator’s office phones in Bangor and Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6 and 11.
Collins, a Republican, was elected to her fifth term on Nov. 3.
Preble has been charged with two counts of making interstate threats because the computer server that stores the voicemails is not located in Maine, according to the affidavit.
Preble insisted on having the hearing held in-person rather than remotely. It was one of the first in-person hearings held in U.S. District Court in Bangor this year.
U.S. District Judge Lance Walker on Tuesday ordered Preble to be returned to the Carswell Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, so that she can be restored to competency. Last November, shortly after she was charged, Preble was ordered to undergo a competency exam, but the pandemic and rising infection numbers delayed the evaluation.
She was at the facility from Jan. 29 until late March or early April but refused to take antipsychotic medication, Matthew Opesso, a staff psychologist testified Tuesday.
Preble has been held at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison since she was returned to Maine. Once she is returned to the Texas facility, she can be held up to four months while undergoing treatment. That treatment should include antipsychotic medication, Opresso told Walker.
Augusta defense attorney Scott Hess argued that Preble is competent because she understood the charges against her, the punishment that could result, and the difference between a trial before a judge and a jury. Hess said his client has not received any of the mail he had sent her while she was in Texas and had been cut off from family. He asked that she be treated closer to home.
Walker said that he did not have that option since the only facility in the Bureau of Prison system that could restore female defendants to competency is the one in Fort Worth. The judge said he would ask for monthly updates on her progress.
On Nov. 6, days after Collins was re-elected, Preble allegedly left two messages at the senator’s Bangor office, located in the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building in Bangor. Preble’s statements were described as “rambling and insulting” in the affidavit.
FBI agents interviewed Preble that afternoon of Nov. 6. She is described in the affidavit as “hostile and generally uncooperative” during the interview but denied she was a threat to Collins.
She was warned not to threaten the senator again but on Nov. 11, Preble allegedly left six similar voicemails at the senator’s Washington, D.C., office. In one, Preble stated: “We the people are going to put you in front of firing squads,” the affidavit said. “Stretch you by the neck. Decapitate you.”
It was the second time in two years that a Maine resident has been charged with threatening Collins. Suzanne Muscara, 39, of Burlington was sentenced to 30 months in prison after mailing a threatening letter to Collins in October 2018 about the senator’s vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In that case, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service intercepted the letter at the mail sorting facility in Hampden, and the FBI matched a fingerprint on the note to Muscara, according to court documents. Muscara is scheduled to be released from a federal detention center in Philadelphia on Friday.
If convicted, Preble faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.