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Man who placed bomb on MLK Day parade route sentenced to 32 years

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 4:35 PM EST, Tue December 20, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Kevin William Harpham is prototypical "lone wolf," FBI says
  • NEW: The 32-year sentence is what prosecutors sought
  • Harpham is a white supremacist who says he meant harm, a document says
  • A backpack with a bomb, shrapnel and anticoagulant was traced to Harpham

(CNN) -- A 37-year-old white supremacist, Kevin William Harpham, was sentenced Tuesday to 32 years in prison for placing a bomb-laden backpack along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Washington, in January, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Harpham, an unemployed electrician from Colville, Washington, pleaded guilty in September to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to commit a federal hate crime.

Shrapnel in the "improvised explosive device" contained anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting, authorities said.

After he is released from prison, Harpham will serve the rest of his life under court supervision, federal prosecutors said.

"Harpham admitted that he is a white supremacist and white separatist, and that he placed the explosive device at the march with the intent to cause bodily injury to the person or persons in order to further his racist beliefs," a Justice Department statement said.

Federal prosecutors had recommended that Harpham be sentenced to 32 years in prison, according to court documents. He was sentenced in federal court in Spokane.

The January 17 march was attended by about 2,000 people, including racial minorities, authorities said.

"Today, Mr. Harpham faces the consequences of his hate-filled act. A prototypical 'lone wolf' such as Mr. Harpham presents a particularly vexing threat -- with nothing foreshadowing a carefully planned attack," Laura M. Laughlin, special agent in charge of the FBI Seattle office, said in a statement.

Said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, in a statement: "Acts of hate like this one have no place in our country in the year 2011, but yet, unfortunately, we continue to see attempted violence in our communities due to racial animus."

The backpack containing the device was discovered, and no one was injured. But law enforcement officials said that if Harpham had succeeded, many people could have been harmed. He had packed a 6-inch steel pipe with 100 grams of black powder and more than 100 fishing weights, which were intended to be shrapnel.

In addition, Harpham coated the weights with an anticoagulant. According to court documents, he intended to set off his bomb using a transmitter and receiver from a remote car starter device.

The plea agreement says Harpham's DNA was matched to the backpack; investigators tracked his purchase of the fishing weights to a local Walmart store and the purchase of the remote triggering mechanism to an Internet transaction; and they retrieved a camera from his home that contained pictures Harpham had taken of himself at the march.

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