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Topekan gets 16 days in pipe bomb incident
A Shawnee County judge on Friday sentenced a Topeka man to 16 days in
jail and two years of probation on a charge of criminal damage to property
in connection with a pipe bombing at the home of Brent Roper and Shirley
District Judge Franklin Theis said the jail time was a message that Kent
B. Lindstrom’s Aug. 20, 1996, detonation of a pipe bomb outside
the home of the couple and their eight children was “an act of terrorism.”
“There’s no justification for it,” he said.
The bomb was a 4- to 6 inch “explosive device” made of a
PVC pipe 1 inch around that was detonated with a fuse.
Lindstrom, 26, had pleaded no contest to criminal damage to property,
a class E felony, as part of a plea arrangement with the district attorney’s
office. Before the plea, Lindstrom was charged with felony arson and property
loss of under $25,000.
After the sentencing, the Rev. Fred W. Phelps Sr. said he would ask the
U.S. Attorney to file federal charges against Lindstrom.
Lindstrom is to spend weekends in jail. Theis said he didn’t want
to interfere with Lindstrom’s job at a used-car dealership or his
full-time education. However, Theis said he did want the jail sentence
to inconvenience Lindstrom.
Lindstrom’s sentence also includes payment of $1,751 in restitution,
100 hours of community service, a prohibition on contact with the victims
or their family, and a ban on possession of any explosives or weapons.
The restitution is to pay for $1,691 in damage to the Phelps-Roper van
and for $60 worth of damage to a fence, Phelps-Roper said.
Theis declined to rule on a request by Jonathan B. Phelps that Lindstrom
be ordered to pay, as restitution, $833 in reward money to a woman who
provided information about the explosion.
After the explosion, a $5,000 reward was offered. Six people provided
information, Fred Phelps Sr. said, and the $5,000 reward has been split
six ways, or $833 for each person.
So far, none of the reward has been paid. The other five informants haven’t
requested rewards. Attorneys representing the victims and Lindstrom have
10 days to file documents about the reward question.
Before he was sentenced, Lindstrom told Theis, “I do regret my
involvement in this act.”
Also before the sentencing, Fred Phelps Sr. said he was the intended
He said Lindstrom and others planned to blow up his house but incorrectly
chose the Phelps-Roper house because it was the largest one on the block,
assuming it was Fred Phelps Sr.’s home.
The Phelps-Roper van absorbed the blast, which occurred 8 to 10 feet
from where a 4-day-old boy and a 1 ½ year-old girl slept, he said.
Pedro Irigonegaray, Lindstrom’s defense attorney, disputed that
Fred Phelps Sr. was the target.
“There is no evidence that there was any intent or plan to blow up the house. It is an exaggeration without foundation,” Irigonegaray said.
“It was an immature act which was intended to set off a device,
a large firecracker.”
The Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing is “exceedingly offensive
and abusive,” Irigonegaray said, and it’s “inappropriate”
to “cloak” these acts as religion.
“God is the one to judge, not us mortals,” the defense attorney
said, adding that Lindstrom’s crime deserved punishment because
people could have been harmed.