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November 30, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Sentencing delayed in MLK Day parade bomb plot

Kevin Harpham

— From The Associated Press:
SPOKANE — Sentencing for the man who planted a bomb at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane has been delayed to Dec. 20.

Kevin Harpham, 37, was scheduled for sentencing today in what federal prosecutors have called a case of domestic terrorism. U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush has pushed that back to Dec. 20.

Harpham pleaded guilty in September and faced a prison term of 27 to 32 years.

He was accused of placing the bomb loaded with lead weight shrapnel coated in rat poison along the route last January, but it was discovered before the parade and disabled before it could explode. There were no injuries.

Roger Peven, a federal defender who represents Harpham, declined to say why he sought the delay. But comments from Quackenbush indicated the issue involved questions about the legal definition of an explosive device or a similar device.

Prosecutors did not oppose the delay, and Quackenbush granted it in part because the case has proceeded relatively rapidly since Harpham was arrested on March 9. “A case like this ordinarily does not move along as quickly as it has,” Quackenbush said.

The pipe bomb was loaded with lead fishing weights coated in poison that could inhibit blood clotting in wounds, officials have said. Harpham in September told Quackenbush that he placed the device in an attempt to commit a hate crime.

The plea deal charged Harpham with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and the hate crime of placing the bomb in an effort to target minorities. Dropped were charges of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device.

Harpham, of Addy, Wash., is an Army veteran who has extensive ties to white supremacist groups but no record of past crimes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, has said that Harpham made more than 1,000 postings on a racist website called the Vanguard News Network. The center also has said that Harpham belonged to a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance.

Harpham served from 1996 to 1999 in the U.S. Army at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord. His lawyers have said Harpham had not been recently employed.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: FBI, Spokane, U.S. District Court

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