May 4, 2011 in City

In brief: Delay sought for Harpham trial

 

The man charged with placing a bomb at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in Spokane is seeking a four-month delay in his federal trial for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Lawyers for Kevin Harpham, 36, contend the evidence prosecutors intend to present against their client is too much to process in time for the May 31 trial date.

They also contend that Harpham faces up to life in prison, so the defense needs more time to prepare. The documents filed in federal court in Spokane say federal prosecutors do not object. The delay will be discussed during a May 20 court appearance.

Harpham has pleaded not guilty. He remains in jail without bail. The bomb was discovered and disarmed before it could explode.

Steele closings expected today

Closing arguments in the Edgar Steele murder-for-hire trial could come as early as today.

Defense lawyers are trying to secure the appearance of an audio expert to question the authenticity of FBI recordings in which Steele discusses with handyman Larry Fairfax the plan to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele. But their expert, George Papcun, is vacationing in Bora Bora and U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill declined a request to let him testify via video as well as rejected a request for a two-day trial extension.

Steele, a Sandpoint-area lawyer who represented the Aryan Nations in a lawsuit in 2000, argues that he’s being framed as part of a government conspiracy to silence him. Prosecutors contend Steele, 65, hired Fairfax to kill his wife and mother-in-law so he could pursue a relationship with a 25-year-old Ukranian woman he met online.

The judge told jurors Tuesday that he expects the case will be in their hands by Thursday.

Tribal officers cross-deputized

Benewah County Sheriff Robert Kirts cross-deputized five of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s police officers last month, swearing them in at an informal ceremony in St. Maries.

The action gives the tribal officers authority to enforce state law within reservation boundaries and helps resolve a long-simmering dispute between the sheriff and the tribe over law enforcement practices within reservation boundaries.

In each of the last two state legislative sessions, the tribe has attempted to pass legislation requiring cross-deputization. It failed this year, but last year, the tribe pulled its bill after reaching an agreement with the county. After the legislative session ended, the county backed out of the agreement.

The tribe operates a 15-person police department serving 10,000 reservation residents.

In a joint news release, tribal Chairman Chief Allan said last month’s action “is a small step forward” that makes the reservation safer. Kirts said the “more cooperative relationship” with the tribe will benefit county residents.


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