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Harpham expected to accept plea deal in MLK bombing


Domestic terrorism suspect Kevin W. Harpham, accused of building and planting a backpack bomb along the route of Spokane’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March, is expected to accept a plea bargain today.

Harpham is scheduled for a change of plea hearing this morning in U.S. District Court. He previously had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his trial was scheduled to begin Monday.

“Implicit in that, there is an agreement between the government and the defendant,” a U.S. Justice Department official told The Spokesman-Review. “You don’t schedule a hearing until there is an agreement between the parties.”

The official declined additional comment.

Harpham’s attorney, Roger Peven, could not be reached for comment.

Harpham, 37, is charged with committing a hate crime, using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, attempting to use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device. He’s being held without bail at the Spokane County Jail.

He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.

The hate crime charge alleges Harpham targeted the MLK Unity March in downtown Spokane on Jan. 17 “because of actual or perceived race, color and national origin of any person.”

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.