FARMINGTON, Maine — A Norridgewock man pleaded not guilty Friday to several charges including kidnapping in connection with a Jay paper mill manager being taken hostage at gunpoint for more than nine hours on March 14.
Francis Smith III, 50, walked into the courtroom in handcuffs and leg chains and made his way to the podium in front of Justice Michaela Murphy in Franklin County Superior Court.
His attorney, Walter McKee, waited for him there.
Smith, who has been held on $50,000 cash bail or a $500,000 piece of real estate since his arrest, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of kidnapping, three counts of criminal threatening with a weapon and terrorizing. He also pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.
McKee told the court he has not seen any of the evaluations that were done, including one for bail. The report is needed prior to bail being re-argued.
In March, Judge Valerie Stanfill placed Smith under a court-ordered commitment for a mental health evaluation at the Maine Department of Health and Human Service’s Riverview Psychiatric Center. Smith was to also undergo observation and treatment for not more than 60 days once a room is available. McKee said he did not have the results of those reports.
Smith is accused of holding Verso Paper Androscoggin Mill Manager Marc Connor hostage for more than nine hours inside the mill. Police have said Smith, who was fired from his mill job several months earlier, entered Verso Paper armed with a shotgun and a pistol.
Mill employees tried to take the shotgun from Smith, according to court records.
“He then pulled out a handgun from his waistband and held the employees at bay,” a court document states.
Smith went into Connor’s office and police had occupants evacuated from the building.
Stanfill set bail conditions in March, including that Smith not possess dangerous weapons, have no contact with six victims, not go onto Verso property and not enter the town of Jay.
According to court records, Jay police officers heard two men, believed to be Smith and Connor, talking through the locked door of the manager’s office before state police arrived.
Smith said he was angry and upset about losing his job at the mill. “Francis was also upset about how others have been treated at the mill,” according to court records.
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