SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A man with extensive ties to white supremacists will be sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to federal charges he planted a bomb intended to hurl poison-laced shrapnel into marchers at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane last January.
Kevin Harpham, 37, faces a sentencing range of 27 to 32 years in prison after reaching a deal with prosecutors in September.
The pipe bomb was loaded with lead fishing weights coated in rat poison, which can inhibit blood clotting in wounds, officials have said.
Harpham in September told U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush that he placed the device along the downtown parade route in an attempt to commit a hate crime.
The bomb was discovered and disabled before it could explode.
The Jan. 17 parade drew a crowd of about 2,000 adults and children on a cold winter morning, and was forced onto an alternate route after the bomb was found. Harpham walked in the parade and took pictures of young black children and of a Jewish man who was wearing a yarmulke, prosecutors have said.
Prosecutors said Harpham acted alone.
He was arrested March 9 at his rural home near Addy, Wash.
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. If convicted, he could have faced up to life in prison.
Harpham 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 white supremacist website. The center also has said that Harpham belonged to a neo-Nazi group.
Harpham served from 1996 to 1999 in the U.S. Army at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma. His lawyers have said Harpham had not been recently employed.
He has remained in the Spokane County Jail without bail since his arrest.
Under the deal, Harpham would remain on probation for the rest of his life once he leaves prison.