Idaho

Sentencing Delayed For Valley Bomber, But No Third Trial Charles H. Barbee Faces Mandatory Life Imprisonment

A Spokane Valley bomber’s request for a third trial was denied Friday, but he succeeded in getting his sentencing postponed.

Charles H. Barbee, 43, faces mandatory life in prison when he is sentenced Tuesday. Co-defendant Robert S. Berry, 43, faces the same sentence on that day.

Verne Jay Merrell, 52, was sentenced Thursday to spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

The three white separatists were convicted by a jury of last year’s bombings and bank robberies in the Spokane Valley. The robberies occurred at the same branch of U.S. Bank.

Barbee didn’t want to be sentenced on Friday, and filed his own legal motions after firing his attorney.

White separatists follow a religious belief that regards Halloween as an observance for the anti-Christ or the “mark of the beast” they despise.

Barbee, 43, formerly of Sandpoint, was brought to court as scheduled Friday under extraordinary security.

It included police briefly blocking Monroe Street as deputy U.S. marshals in a fast-moving motor caravan transported Barbee from jail to the U.S. Court House and back.

The FBI and local police are attempting to determine if a drive-by shooting on Thursday at a U.S. Bank in north Spokane was related to Merrell’s sentencing.

Barbee asked the judge for more time to read a background report, detailing his past, including a jury conviction on 12 federal charges.

In seeking a new trial, Barbee claimed his court-appointed attorney, Roger Peven, was ineffective and displayed a “lackluster performance.”

U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen saw it otherwise, and called Peven one of the most competent defense attorneys Barbee could have found.

Barbee also accused a court reporter of falsifying the official transcript of his first trial which ended with a hung jury. Barbee questioned whether that jury was dismissed before a mistrial was declared.

“You’re just striking out with sheer speculation, without any foundation there,” the judge told Barbee.

The judge denied Barbee’s request for a new trial, saying he didn’t file his request before a required deadline.

“I’m a victim of legal trickery,” Barbee snapped back during a defiant exchange.

Barbee then asked the judge to appoint someone else to be his stand-by defense attorney, but Nielsen said he wouldn’t do that.

“I’m not asking for another mouthpiece,” Barbee said. “I’m still representing myself up here.”

He then asked the judge to step down from the sentencing phase.

“You’re obviously prejudiced against us as defendants,” Barbee said, standing before Nielsen.

He accused the judge of prejudicing the jury by allowing the panel access to the book, “Vigilantes of Christendom,” which details the religious philosophy of Phineas priests.

“We didn’t have a fair trial, and the reason is because of you, Judge Nielsen,” Barbee said.

Without raising his voice, the judge said he wouldn’t respond to Barbee’s accusations.

“I’ve tried to be as objective and dispassionate as possible,” the judge said. “I have no feeling of animus toward you or your beliefs.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Cut in Spokane edition.

This sidebar appeared with the story: BARBEE’S REASONS In seeking a new trial, Barbee claimed his court-appointed attorney, Roger Peven, was ineffective and displayed a “lackluster performance.” He also accused a court reporter of falsifying the official transcript of his first trial, which ended with a hung jury.

Cut in Spokane edition.

This sidebar appeared with the story: BARBEE’S REASONS In seeking a new trial, Barbee claimed his court-appointed attorney, Roger Peven, was ineffective and displayed a “lackluster performance.” He also accused a court reporter of falsifying the official transcript of his first trial, which ended with a hung jury.



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