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Grand Jury Indicts Man in MLK Parade Bomb Case

MLK Day parade backpack bomb

A backpack found along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., contained a sophisticated explosive and detonator, the FBI said. (FBI, via AP)

A federal grand jury has indicted a man accused of placing a bomb along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane.

The returned indictment Tuesday charged Kevin Harpham, 36, with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device.

Harpham will be arraigned Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno, where he will enter a plea and receive a trial date. He is being held without bail in the Spokane County Jail.

Harpham is from Addy, a town north of Spokane, and has extensive ties to white supremacist groups.

Federal public defender Roger Peven said he had not seen the indictment and couldn't comment. Grand jury cases are presented by prosecutors in closed sessions, with defense attorneys and reporters excluded.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

All information about the federal investigation that led to Harpham's arrest has been sealed.

The pipe bomb was found the morning of the parade, Jan. 17, and disabled before it could explode. Harpham was arrested at his home on March 9.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Harrington will serve as lead prosecutor in the case.

Peven and Harrington squared off in 1997 during Spokane's last major trial involving white supremacists.

Three men were convicted of a series of bombings and bank robberies that federal investigators characterized as acts of domestic terrorism. Charles H. Barbee, Verne Jay Merrell and Robert S. Berry, all formerly of Sandpoint, were convicted of the 1996 bombings at a local branch of U.S. Bank and the Spokane Valley office of The Spokesman-Review newspaper.

Harpham's father, Cecil, of Kettle Falls, recently told reporters that his son was with him when the bomb was discovered and couldn't have planted the device.

Harpham served from 1996 to 1999 with the Army's 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment at what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, said base spokesman Joseph Piek.

He was not married and more recently appeared to be jobless.

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