(CBS/AP) SPOKANE, Wash. - A man with extensive ties to white supremacists pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he planted a bomb along a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in Spokane, Wash., targeting minorities.
Kevin Harpham reached a deal with federal prosecutors for a recommended sentencing range of 27 to 32 years in prison just days before his trial was to begin in U.S. District Court.
The pipe bomb was loaded with lead fishing weights coated in a chemical, and could have caused mass casualties, prosecutors said.
The 37-year-old told U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush that it took him about a month to build the bomb with components he bought at Walmart and other places. He acknowledged placing the bomb along the parade route in an attempt to commit a hate crime.
The backpack bomb was discovered by parade workers and disabled before it could explode.
"This community was terrorized on Jan. 17 when this occurred," U.S. Attorney Mike Ormsby said after the hearing. "Hopefully the healing that needs to occur as a result of this happening can begin."
Ormsby said the evidence suggests that Harpham acted alone.
"There is no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved in this event," he said.
Harpham spoke in a clear voice when he said "guilty" to each of the two counts against him. When the judge asked if he placed the bomb along the parade route because of the actual or perceived race, color or national origin of the marchers, Harpham replied "yes."
He will be sentenced Nov. 30, and the judge has the option of imposing a sentence within the range of the agreement - 27 to 32 years - or not.
Harpham originally was charged with committing a hate crime, using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device. He could have faced up to life in prison.
Harpham, of Addy, Wash., is an Army veteran who has extensive ties to white supremacist groups but no record of past crimes.
More on Crimesider