Man pleads guilty in bomb attempt near Columbine

DENVER Fri Dec 30, 2011 6:55pm EST

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DENVER (Reuters) - A convicted bank robber accused of trying to set off a bomb at a shopping mall near Columbine High School on the 12th anniversary of the shooting rampage there pleaded guilty on Friday to a federal charge.

Earl Moore, a 65-year-old convicted bank robber who was released from prison just a week before the April 20 incident, faces a minimum 30-year prison term when he is sentenced in March.

Moore pleaded guilty during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Denver to a single count of using a destructive device during a crime of violence.

"I didn't have any intention of hurting anybody, your honor," Moore told Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane. "I guess I was just upset. It was a domestic thing. It doesn't make any sense."

Moore's defense attorney and prosecutors agreed that his action had nothing to do with the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine massacre.

The device, which was connected to two small propane canisters, was placed at Southwest Plaza but did not explode although it did cause minor fire damage in a service corridor.

There were no injuries, but the incident forced authorities to evacuate the mall and stirred alarm on the anniversary of the Columbine shooting rampage.

Two Columbine students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, fatally shot 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves on April 20, 1999, also using makeshift bombs made from propane tanks.

Moore was "sleeping in the woods" without a job or place to live when he slipped into a back door of Southwest Plaza mall with the explosive materials, his attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Robert Pepin, told reporters.

Pepin said his client wanted him to tell reporters he regrets his actions and "deeply regrets any impact" they had on people traumatized by the massacre 12 years earlier. He said Moore did not realize he placed the bomb on the anniversary.

Kane, who said that Moore faced "essentially a life sentence" because of his age, told attorneys for both sides he would consider ordering a mental evaluation of the defendant.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of arson in exchange for Moore's guilty plea. Moore had been released from federal prison on April 13 after serving time for the 2005 robbery of a West Virginia bank.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)

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