Accused Colorado mall bomber agrees to guilty plea

DENVER Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:06pm EST

Earl Albert Moore is shown in this police booking mug shot from a prior arrest, released to Reuters April 24, 2011. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Earl Albert Moore is shown in this police booking mug shot from a prior arrest, released to Reuters April 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/FBI/Handout

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DENVER (Reuters) - A convicted bank robber accused of a botched attempt to bomb a shopping mall near Columbine High School on the 12th anniversary of the school massacre has struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty in the case.

An attorney for Earl Moore, 65, who pleaded not guilty in May to arson and explosives charges, filed notice on Tuesday in federal court disclosing that a settlement has been reached and asking a judge to set a date for Moore to enter his new plea.

Details of the deal will not be disclosed until the agreement is formally filed, which will occur the day Moore enters the plea. A judge is expected to set the date soon.

He is accused of planting a pipe bomb and two propane canisters together and setting fire to them inside a service corridor at the Southwest Plaza mall on April 20, then slipping away before smoke from the smoldering device was detected.

Remnants of the unexploded bomb were found by firefighters called to the scene. The blaze was quickly put out and the mall was immediately evacuated.

No one was hurt. But the incident stirred alarm because it occurred a mile from Columbine on the anniversary of the shooting rampage there and involved a makeshift incendiary bomb similar to devices brought to school in 1999 by the Columbine assailants, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

The two heavily armed teenagers fatally shot 12 fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves in what was then the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

While in custody, Moore told a Denver television station his actions had no connection to the anniversary.

Local and federal authorities have said they have no evidence linking the botched firebombing at Southwest Plaza to the Columbine rampage. Neither investigators nor any court documents filed in the firebomb case have suggested a motive for Moore's actions.

He was arrested April 26 in Boulder, Colorado following a weeklong manhunt.

Moore had been released from federal prison on April 13, just seven days before the shopping mall incident, after serving time for a 2005 robbery of a West Virginia bank.

If tried and convicted of the charges contained in the two-count indictment against him -- arson and use of a "destructive device during a crime of violence" -- Moore faced a combined sentence of up to 35 years in prison.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)

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