Documents in Spokane bomb case to remain sealed
Details of the investigation that led to hate crimes charges against a man accused of placing a bomb along the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route will remain sealed, a federal judge has decided.
SPOKANE — Details of the investigation that led to hate crimes charges against a man accused of placing a bomb along the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route will remain sealed, a federal judge has decided.
U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush ruled against motions by The Associated Press, Cowles Publishing Co., and The Seattle Times that the documents be released since Kevin William Harpham, 36, was arrested on March 9 and remains in jail without bail.
Those documents detail the FBI investigation against Harpham, who has extensive ties to white supremacist groups. In addition, the charges against Harpham were upgraded by a new grand jury indictment late Thursday which charged him with violating the federal Hate Crimes Act because of the race of the intended targets. Harpham earlier pleaded not guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and unauthorized possession of an unregistered explosive device.
The bomb was found on Jan. 17 and disabled before it could explode.
The incident raised fears in the black community, and prompted an April 3 march and rally led by National NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
The news organizations argued there was no longer any compelling reason to keep the documents sealed. But federal prosecutors contended release of the search warrant affidavits, grand jury materials and other documents could hurt an ongoing investigation, and also taint the potential jury pool for Harpham's trial.
Quackenbush ruled that the press does not have a right to all the materials in the case.
"When an investigation is ongoing the same principles which favor secrecy at the pre-indictment stage are still present," the judge ruled.
Quackenbush also wrote that "right of a defendant to a fair trial is paramount."
The requested court documents include information that would not be admissible at trial, including hearsay statements by people without personal knowledge of the information, the judge said.
Public defender Roger Peven and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Harrington did not immediately return requests for comment.
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