The man with alleged ties to the white supremacist movement suspected of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. parade is questioning whether the device he’s accused of leaving in a backpack can really be called a “weapon of mass destruction.”
Kevin Harpham’s attorneys wrote late last month that none of the four definitions of a “weapon of mass destruction” in federal law referenced an “improvised explosive device.”
“Mr. Harpham’s preparation for trial, including his consultation with potential expert witnesses and confrontation of government witnesses will differ, depending on what legal definition of ‘weapon of mass destruction’ forms the basis of the indictment,” Kimberly A. Deate and Kailey E. Moran wrote on Harpham’s behalf. “Clarification of this issue will also ultimately be necessary for the formulation of jury instructions.”
In a motion this week, federal prosecutors responded to a request for a bill of particulars by attorneys for Harpham. The Justice Department’s lawyers said that under federal law a weapon of mass destruction is a destructive device, which is defined as an explosive, incendiary or poison gas bomb, grenade, rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than one-quarter ounce or mine.
An official previously called the backpack device the worst he’d ever seen and said it was rigged to a remote detonator.