By Jody May-Chang
Originally published on BoiseWeekly.com Aug. 26, 2010
Catherine Carlson, arrested in Payette last month for setting fire to the trailer where she lived and placing what looked like four pipe booms on her stoop, was moved in late July from isolation in the Payette County Jail to the Idaho State Hospital in Orofino where she remains for an undetermined period of time.
Payette County Prosecutor Anne-Marie Kelso told CityDesk that although she could not talk specifically about Carlson because of medical privacy laws, explained that when a judge commits someone it is because the court suspects mental illness and the defendant is likely to hurt themself or others.
“Everything is stayed right now. Once she is out of the mental hospital they will complete the physiological evaluation regarding the issue of whether she can assist her attorney and only then can we proceed,” said Kelso.
Charged with felony first degree arson and using a hoax destructive device, Carlson faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
“I can’t say for sure,” said Kelso, “but it would be very unlikely to ask for the maximum sentence.”
Carlson said her case boils down to one thing: respect for her identity as a woman. In 1980 Carlson had sexual reassignment surgery to become a woman. As one of several pre-conditions for surgery, Carlson had her name legally changed. However despite her efforts to get it removed, Idaho state records list Carlson’s former male name as an a.k.a.
“You want to know why this mobile home went up in flames?” asked Carlson. â€œIt went up in flames because they wouldn’t transfer it into my name and the reason why is because I don’t have an I.D., and I don’t have an I.D. because they are insisting that they keep that a.k.a.”
Carlson told CityDesk that when police stopped her for a traffic violation and checked her license plate or drivers license number for warrants, it came back with her former male name.
“I’m a FCC ham radio operator so when they do that, they are literally telling everyone I know this information because they listen to the police scanners, said Carlson. “It puts a target on my back” and it’s “none of their business.”
Carlson’s court appointed public defender Phillip Heersink was contacted but told CityDesk “I have no comments at all regarding the Catherine Carlson Case.”