SEATTLE, Dec 20 - A former U.S. soldier was sentenced to 32 years in prison on Tuesday for planting a bomb along the parade route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Washington state.
The sentence is the maximum that Kevin Harpham, an admitted white supremacist, could have received after he entered a guilty plea in September to federal weapons and hate-crime charges.
After release, Harpham will spend the rest of his life under court supervision, the Justice Department said.
The sentence, handed down in the U.S. District Court in Spokane, Washington, came only after Harpham attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, but the judge denied his request.
Harpham, 37, was arrested at his Colville, Washington, home on March 9.
The unattended backpack bomb, with wires visible, was discovered on a downtown Spokane bench along the parade route by three city workers who notified police about 30 minutes before the march was scheduled to begin, according to the FBI.
The January 17 parade, on the national holiday honoring the slain American civil rights leader and attended by about 2,000 people, was rerouted while the city’s bomb disposal unit was summoned and safely neutralized the device.
No one was hurt, but the bomb was capable of causing serious injury or death had it exploded, the FBI said.
Reporting by Laura Myers; Editing by Bill Rigby and Eric Walsh