Kevin Harpham, the man linked to an attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Wash., has entered a guilty plea in federal court. Harpham has admitted a racial motivation for the crime, and prosecutors are asking for a sentence of up to 32 years in prison.
First hate crime charge on record for Eastern Washington
On Jan. 17, police in the city of Spokane, Wash., found a backpack along the route of a Martin Luther King Day parade that contained a bomb. By March, according to Northwest Cable News, it had been linked to Kevin Harpham, who was initially charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The charges were later amended to include use of a firearm in commission of a crime as well as a hate crime. According to CBS, it is the first time that a person has been charged with a hate crime in Eastern Washington. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to MSNBC, considers the attempted bombing an act of domestic terrorism.
Guilty plea entered
Five days before his trial was scheduled to begin, Harpham changed his plea to guilty after pleading not guilty to the charges in March. His attorneys, according to the Spokesman-Review, are seeking a 27-year sentence, and the prosecution is seeking a 32-year sentence. The presiding judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush, told Harpham that he will be under supervised release for the remainder of his life after his release, according to Northwest Cable News. He could have received up to life in prison if he had undergone a full trial and been convicted, according to CBS. He will be sentenced on Nov. 30. The U.S. Attorney for the district of Eastern Washington, Mike Ormsby, said “this community was terrorized” when the bomb was found and that “hopefully the healing … can begin,” according to the Spokesman Review.
Ties to white supremacist groups
Harpham, according to KXLY, a Spokane-area ABC affiliate, was found by the Southern Poverty Law Center to have ties to white supremacist groups. He formerly served in the U.S. Army but was unemployed at the time of his arrest. Harpham is alleged to have been a member of a white supremacist organization called the National Alliance. He also tried to join the Aryan Nations, a hate group formerly located on a compound outside Hayden Lake in Northern Idaho. The SPLC also, according to CBS, discovered Harpham frequently posted on the Vanguard News Network, a white supremacist site. The bomb Harpham planted along the parade route contained 128 lead fishing weights intended to be used as shrapnel that had a chemical coating, according to the Wall Street Journal. He purchased components at a Walmart and took more than a month to assemble the device. It was disposed of safely, and his DNA was found on the backpack, leading to his arrest.
Northwest Cable News: http://www.nwcn.com/news/129389218.html
Spokesman Review: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/sep/07/harpham-enters-guilty-plea-unity-day-bomb/?prefetch=1
Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904836104576556811084330984.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
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