Grand jury indicts Harpham in MLK bomb case
A federal grand jury today returned an indictment against Kevin W. Harpham, officially charging him with placing the bomb along the planned route of the Unity March on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Harpham, who was arrested March 9 just as he drove away from his 10 acres south of Colville, is scheduled to appear Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno for an arraignment where he will plead not guilty and receive a trial date.
Harpham, 36, who authored more than 1,000 postings to a racist website, faces the charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device after a bomb was discovered on Jan. 17 at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue.
However, all information about how federal investigators identified Harpham as a suspect has been sealed.
Mike Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, said on Monday that he does not expect to comment about the indictment today.
Roger Peven, executive director of Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington, is representing Harpham opposite Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Harrington, who will serve as lead prosecutor in the case.
Peven said on Monday that he’s just getting started.
“It’s a serious case that I look forward to getting the information and getting to work on with my team.” he said.
Peven and Harrington previously faced each other in 1997 during the trial of three white supremacists convicted of a series of bombings and bank robberies that federal investigators characterized as acts of domestic terrorism, inspired by extremist religious beliefs.
In that case, a jury convicted Charles H. Barbee, Verne Jay Merrell and Robert S. Berry, all formerly of Sandpoint, of the April 1, 1996, bombings at a local branch of U.S. Bank and the Spokane Valley office of The Spokesman-Review after “they couldn’t find the (Spokesman office) downtown,” Peven said.
Peven – who also worked for a time as the defense attorney for convicted murderer Joseph Duncan – supervises seven other attorneys in the Spokane office and five in the Yakima office of federal public defenders.
Many of those defense attorneys will help defend Harpham, but he also said he expects Kim Deater and Kailey Moran will play major roles in Harpham’s defense.
Harpham’s father, Cecil Harpham, of Kettle Falls, recently granted interviews with KXLY TV in which he claimed that his son was with him when the bomb was discovered. Peven said he’s aware of those comments but has not yet “substantially” explored them.