December 15, 2011 in City

Jury convicts bomb-maker of manslaughter

Explosives brought to party killed one guest
By The Spokesman-Review
 

After the first jury decided 9-3 to acquit him, a second jury handed down a unanimous second-degree manslaughter conviction against the man who built a homemade bomb that killed a Spokane man at a belated Halloween party in 2010.

Christapher A. Harris, who turns 21 on Sunday, faces about three years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 6. Harris was convicted of killing 28-year-old Cody R. Hathaway on Nov. 6, 2010, north of Chattaroy.

The jury acquitted Harris of first-degree manslaughter.

Harris offered no comment on the verdict, but his attorney, James Kirkham, criticized Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Dale Nagy for retrying the case after an earlier jury came to a decision weighted heavily toward acquittal.

Harris brought three bombs, which were small metal cartridges filled with black powder, to the party. Co-defendant James J. Crouchman, 36, lit one of the devices, which later exploded and killed Hathaway. Crouchman was allowed to plead down to misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

“I think it’s a miscarriage of justice to offer Mr. Crouchman a misdemeanor and continue to prosecute the case, given my client had a complete lack of criminal history and a split verdict in the first case,” Kirkham said.

Nagy said after the trial that his office “always respects the jury’s verdict.”

The same jury in September that hung on first-degree manslaughter charges against Harris also decided 11-1 to acquit Crouchman. As part of his plea deal, Crouchman did not testify in the latest trial.

In the first case, both Harris and Crouchman were convicted of possession of an explosive device and Harris on the additional charge of possession of a stolen firearm. The lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter was not offered in the first trial.

After Hathaway was killed, Harris – who wasn’t invited to the party – then took bomb-making materials out of his apartment and dumped them off of a forest road north of Osburn, Idaho.


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