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Harpham loses latest appeal

Kevin William Harpham has failed once again to overturn his 32-year prison sentence for planting a bomb on the route of the Martin Luther King Day march in 2011. 

An order handed down Monday by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush throws out that latest appeal from Harpham. The 41-year-old is serving his sentence at a federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California, and is scheduled for release in 2039.

Harpham pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and hate crimes in September 2011, eight months after local authorities discovered the explosive placed along the march route before the event began. Authorities eventually arrested Harpham in rural Stevens County, and he faced a potential life sentence in prison before taking a plea deal a few days before his trial was scheduled to begin.

The most recent appeal was lodged by Harpham in May, more than a year after the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Harpham's argument that he had been coerced into taking the plea deal by his attorneys. Harpham argued in this appeal that his lawyers had provided ineffective counsel, but Quackenbush said that argument was without merit.

"Harpham was facing a possible life sentence. That he was ultimately sentenced to 32 years is evidence that his attorneys provided proper representation," Quackenbush wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court had declined to hear Harpham's first appeal. 

Task Force Denounces Hate Crime

Spokeswoman Heather Keen of the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe reports that the Idaho Department of Transportation has already replaced the historical market contaminated with racist graffiti. She encourages anyone with information about this incident to call the Idaho State Police or Crime Stoppers at 1800-222-8477. (Courtesy photo: Coeur d'Alene Tribe)

Tony Stewart of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations sent the following letter to the Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe re: racist vandalism found on the DeSmet Mission historical marker over the weekend: "It is with great sadness and concern that we have learned about the hate message scrawled on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal historical sign. It is obvious that the perpetrator or perpetrators have engaged in the most hideous form of racism that has emerged from their deep seated bigotry and prejudice. This is clearly a hate crime with the intent to promote anger and hatred directed at the good people of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. It is unfortunately another example to remind us that we still have a challenge in eradicating racism from the world’s society. We condemn and denounce in the strongest terms this act of hatred." Full letter here. (Courtesy photo of vandalism: Coeur d'Alene Indian Tribe)

Question: Do you consider the vandalism to the DeSmet Mission historical marker to be a hate crime?

Court Upholds Hate Crime Conviction

A unanimous Idaho Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Frank Tankovich for malicious harassment and conspiracy after a 2009 incident in which he and his two brothers, in a truck festooned with a swastika, harassed a man of Puerto Rican descent outside his Coeur d’Alene home. “We find ample evidence to support the jury’s finding that Tankovich was motivated by racial animus,” Appeals Court Judge Karen Lansing wrote in the decision, issued today. Frank Tankovich and his brother William were sentenced to probation and community service for the incident, while his brother Ira was convicted of conspiracy to disturb the peace and possession of a gun by a felon, and was sentenced to up to nine years in prison/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here. (Photo, from left: Ira Tankovich, William Tankovich and Frank Tankovich)


Court of Appeals upholds Coeur d’Alene hate-crime conviction

A unanimous Idaho Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Frank Tankovich for malicious harassment and conspiracy after a 2009 incident in which he and his two brothers, in a truck festooned with a swastika, harassed a man of Puerto Rican descent outside his Coeur d’Alene home. “We find ample evidence to support the jury’s finding that Tankovich was motivated by racial animus,” Appeals Court Judge Karen Lansing wrote in the decision, issued today; you can read our full story here at spokesman.com.

Feds join Spokane shooting probe

A man charged with attempted second-degree murder in connection with a shot targeting three black youths was ordered held in jail Tuesday as federal authorities also indicated that they would investigate the shooting as a possible hate crime.

Jimmy J. Blackburn, 29, pleaded not guilty before Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza, who ordered Blackburn to remain in custody on a $500,000 bond. Cozza set Blackburn’s trial on the three attempted murder charges for Nov. 19.

Blackburn was arrested Sept. 13 as Spokane police officers converged at the Days Inn, at 120 W. Third Ave., to investigate the shooting of Paul A. Haney, 33, who was found dead in the parking lot.

According to court records, investigators believe Kevin M. Heaton, 35, is responsible for that shooting and remains on the loose. Heaton had paid for the room in which Blackburn was found at the Days Inn, but the court records don’t indicate whether Blackburn had any involvement in the Haney shooting.

Hate Crimes? Or Something Else?

Gay men in Spokane are either being targeted for beatings due to their sexual orientation, or they’re getting into trouble just like anyone else. Representatives from the gay community and four recent assault victims say it’s the former. Police says it’s the latter. “They’re saying that there’s these four vicious assaults on members of their community. And now I can say that four members of the community have been involved in incidences,” says Jennifer DeRuwe, a spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department. “I cannot say that there is a campaign of violence against gays.” Matthew Cannon, a director of the Inland Northwest LGBT Center, a Spokane-based gay advocacy group, says the assaults represent a trend/Chris Stein, Pacific Northwest Inlander. More here. (Young Kwak's Inlander photo shows victim Danny Hawkins, who sez he was assaulted because he's gay.)

Question: We've been discussing this one for awhile, w/our own GWM Digger commenting that he opposes hate-crime designation because assault should simply be considered assault regardless of motivation. Do you have any further thoughts?

Hate Crime Suspect Faces Up To Life

Item: Incident could lead to life sentence: Man issued $50K bond, no contact order for alleged hate crime/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: A Coeur d'Alene man faces up to life in prison stemming from an alleged hate crime incident on Saturday. Joel T. Diekhoff, 29, faces five years in jail and up to $5,000 on one count of felony malicious harassment - or hate crime. With two convicted felonies on his record, Diekhoff qualifies as a persistent offender, upping the possible incarceration term to life.

Question: Do you agree that hate crimes should carry a stiffer penalty?

Update: Hate Crime Victim KOs Skinhead

A self-proclaimed skinhead was knocked unconscious by a black man after threatening to stab him last weekend in Bayview, Idaho, officials said Friday. Daren Christopher Abbey, 28, was booked into jail on a malicious harassment charge after being treated at a hospital for facial fractures, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. Abbey is accused of threatening to stab Marlon L. Baker, 46, inside J.D.’s Resort on July 3 in Bayview after telling Baker he didn’t belong in the bar because he was black, said Lt. Stu Miller. Baker left the bar to avoid a fight, but police say Abbey followed him to a marina about 300 yards away, called him racial slurs and again threatened to stab him/Meghann Cuniff, SR. More here. And: Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Watch story here.

Question: Do you think Abbey learned a lesson?

Vestal: Hate Depends On Outlook

Then, this week, Michael Hop came rushing to his brother’s defense. He claimed – in a long story the S-R published on its website, and a shorter version that appeared in the paper – that his brother is merely proud of his white heritage, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The reason he picketed taco trucks in Coeur d’Alene – an activity that is deeply offensive to both heart and stomach – is because the Hop brothers, being from California and all, truly understand what will happen if we let tacos and the people who make them proliferate. In his interview with the S-R, Michael Hop tried to whitewash these things the way bigots always do – it’s not that they hate anybody; it’s just that they’re proud of their race, see? Nothing wrong with that/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here.

Question: Are people who picket Mexican food stands in Coeur d'Alene misguided? Hateful? Or merely individuals with a pride in the white culture?

Cops: Girls’ Spat Triggered Vandalism

Vandalism investigated as a possible religious hate crime was the result of a dispute between two teenage girls, Spokane police say. Detectives have identified a “potential suspect” and are continuing the investigation, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. Police were called to the home in the 7000 block of North Cochran about 2 a.m. today, where they found swastikas and foul language had been written on the house, two cars, two trucks and two boats. There were disparaging remarks about Jesus and references to God hating the occupants. A Bible had been set on fire on the porch, according to police/Meghann Cuniff, SR. More here.


INW: Teen Dispute Incites Vandalism

Police are investigating a hate crime against a family living on North Cochran in Spokane. Early this morning, their house was vandalized with foul-laced language, including disparaging remarks about Jesus and references to God hating them. A Bible had been set on fire on the porch, according to police. Story here. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)

Update (from Meghann Cuniff's Twitter): Just in from Spokane police: vandalism investigated as hate crime resulted from dispute between teenage girls.

Kellogg Reports Cross Burning

The Police Chief in Kellogg, Idaho tells KHQ that on MLK day fire crews responded to cross burning on Elder Ave. which is in the northeast part of Kellogg. The cross was wrapped in burlap and was about three and a half feet tall. The cross was placed on city property and police do not believe it was targeted at any one person/KHQ. More here.

Question: Why are local supremacists becoming more active in last week to 10 days? Martin Luther King Day observance have them fired up?

New trial request alleges jury misconduct

Two Coeur d’Alene brothers convicted in October of a hate crime have requested a new trial, accusing the presiding juror of misconduct.

William Tankovich Jr. (below) and his brother Frank Tankovich (right) were convicted of felony malicious harassment and conspiracy to commit malicious harassment for a 2009 altercation with a Puerto Rican man, Kenneth Requena. 

The Tankoviches’ attorneys, Jedediah Whitaker and Chris Schwartz, said in their motions for a new trial that the presiding juror attempted to influence another juror “through the use of guilt, recrimination, harassment and the false display of authority.”

Read the rest of Allison Boggs’ story here.

Hate Crime Sticks To Tankovich Trio

Following the third trial in eight months, two Coeur d’Alene brothers were found guilty Thursday of racially harassing and threatening a Hispanic man in August 2009. Sentencing was set for Jan. 13 for Frank James Tankovich, 47, and William Michael Tankovich Jr., 50, who were found guilty of malicious harassment and conspiracy to commit malicious harassment against Kenneth Requena, a Puerto Rican man. “For a while there, I felt like I was on trial,” said Requena, who felt so threatened when the Tankovich brothers drove by his home on Aug. 16, 2009, that he pulled a gun and had his wife call 911. Defense attorneys said it was Requena’s actions that escalated the incident/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.

  • Cutline: SR File Photo by Jesse Tinsley: William, Ira and Frank Tankovich await their verdicts in an earlier trial in a Kootenai County courtroom April 19. At far right, is defense attorney Dan Cooper.

Question: Do you support the decision by the Kootenai County prosecutor to try the Tankoviches three times on the hate crime?

McHugh Wants 3rd Hate Crime Trial

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said today that he will re-try two Coeur d’Alene brothers on malicious harassment charges. Frank J. Tankovich, 46, and William M. Tankovich, 49, will be tried on charges of conspiracy to commit malicious harassment and malicious harassment related to an incident that occurred last August. The brothers were accused of making racially motivated threats toward Kenneth Requena, who is Puerto Rican. The brothers were tried earlier this month in Coeur d’Alene, along with a third brother, Ira G. Tankovich, 48, in the first hate-crime case to go to trial in North Idaho in recent years. A Coeur d’Alene jury deadlocked on the counts of malicious harassment and conspiracy to commit malicious harassment against Frank and William Tankovich, while convicting Ira Tankovich of the lesser charge of conpiracy to disturb the peace/Spokesman-Review. More here.

Question: Why do you think Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh is pursuing this case?

P.S. Tankovich Verdict

Brothers (from left) William, Ira and Frank Tankovich await their verdicts in a Kootenai County courtroom Monday. The jury hung on all counts except for one count of conspiracy to disturb the peace against Ira. At far right, is defense attorney Dan Cooper. Alison Boggs’ SR story here. (SR Photo: Jesse Tinsley)

Question: Given the verdict in this trial and the previous mistrial, was this case an example of the prosecutor using limited manpower resources to pursue a long-shot case?

1 Tankovich Guilty Of Misdemeanor

Update (via Twitter): Update: Jury finds Ira G. Tankovich guilty of misdemeanor in hate-crime trial. Jurors hung on both counts against his two brothers/SR.

Jurors have reached a partial verdict in the hate-crime trial of three brothers charged with harassing a Coeur d’Alene man last August. The jury announced it had reached a verduct in the case of Ira G. Tankovich, 48, who was charged with conspiracy to commit malicious harassment. They said, however, that they had reached an impasse on charges of malicious harassement against William M. Tankovich, 49, and Frank J. Tankovich, 46, who faced that charge in addition to the conspiracy charge. Jurors didn’t consider the additional conspiracy charges against the two because of confusion about how to proceed, they told the judge. The jury has begun deliberating again on the charges against William and Frank Tankovich, without announcing the verdict on the charge facing Ira Tankovich/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.

Tankovich Erases Smile Just In Time

The hate crime trial in Coeur d’Alene taught one of the defendants to check his gear before he draws a practical joke. Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen used an erasable board to have a witness draw how the Tankovichs’ pickup, which had a swastika and “born to kill” written in the dirt, parked in front of the home of Kenneth Requena in Coeur d’Alene. During a trial break, Frank Tankovich (right) drew a smiley face on the board. But to Tankovich’s chagrin, he didn’t realize it was a permanent marker until he tried to erase the face before Kootenai County 1st District Judge John Luster returned to the courtroom/Thomas Clouse, Sirens & Gavels. More here.

Question: What do you make of the defendant’s practical joke?

Tankovich Hate Crime Trial Begins

The trial against three Coeur d’Alene brothers charged with threatening a Hispanic man has made it through most of the first day without the need for a judge to call a mistrial. Last week, the trial didn’t make it through the first witness before 1st District Judge John Luster halted the proceedings when Deputy Prosecutor Art Verharen played a tape of a 911 call where witness Julie Oliver told police that the incident was a “racist thing.” Today, attorneys for Ira G. Tankovich (pictured), 48, William M. Tankovich, 49, and Frank J. Tankovich, 46, were able to present opening arguments and begin calling witnesses before testimony was put on hold to deal with legal issues surrounding the wife of the alleged victim/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

S&G: Suspect Faces Hate Crime

A  man accused of trying to rob a Spokane taco truck owner may have targeted the victim because of his race, new court documents allege. Michael A. Brewer, 22, has been charged under Washington’s hate-crime law after police say he yelled racial slurs while trying to rob Jonas J. Perez-Lopez at knifepoint last week. Brewer is to be arraigned on charges of attempted first-degree robbery and malicious harassment April 13 in Spokane County Superior Court. He’s being held at Geiger Corrections Center on $7,500 bail after appearing in court this week/Meghann M. Cuniff, Sirens & Gavels. More here.

Question: Should an individual accused of a crime like the one above be charged w/a hate crime simply because racial epithets were yelled in commission of the crime?

Attacker flicked cigarette, asked, ‘What country do you think you’re in?’

Here’s a link to our full report on the federal hate crime convictions of three Idaho men in an attack last July 4th outside a Nampa Wal-Mart store. Among the details: The 24-year-old victim had gone to the store to buy milk. As he left the store, one of the attackers asked him, “What country do you think you’re in?” and flicked his cigarette at the man, who is African-American. The three attackers then chased their victim across the parking lot, tackled him, and then punched and kicked him until he was unconscious. The attackers and victim had never met before. Afterward, the attackers laughed and bragged about what they’d done.