Bomb-making suspect enters guilty plea

A 32-year-old Boise man faces at least 15 years in prison if a judge OKs his deal.

krodine@idahostatesman.comMay 2, 2014 

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    Joshua Finch will be sentenced at 2 p.m. June 30 on five felony charges: aggravated assault; possession of destructive devices or bombs; two counts of injury to a child; and unlawful possession of a firearm, because he is a previously convicted felon (aggravated assault in 2006). A charge of second-degree kidnapping was reduced to aggravated assault as part of his plea deal, and a second charge of firearm possession was dropped.

Joshua Finch admitted to hiding black powder and other makings for pipe bombs in the crawl space that ran under his young kids’ bedrooms.

He admitted that when his then-girlfriend’s father questioned him Nov. 4 about his activities, he grabbed the man by his shirt, held him against a wall and threatened to beat or kill him.

He admitted to possessing or planning an explosive device that would propel shrapnel.

Tipped off last November, Boise police spent 30 hours searching Finch’s Dorian Street home, finding a handgun, an assault rifle, ammunition and a bulletproof vest along with the explosives. While they were there, the latest in an alleged series of suspicious packages arrived: an Israeli combat helmet.

Those are some of the details that came out in Finch’s hearing Thursday, when he changed his plea six months after police descended on his Boise Bench neighborhood with an armored vehicle and other bomb squad gear.

What didn’t come out is why.

When Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Tamera Kelly ran through the specifics behind the five felonies Finch admitted to committing, the only detail that public defender Ransom Bailey took issue with was a comment that Finch accused his questioner of trying to “foil his plans.” There was no specific plan to foil, Bailey said, and the prosecutor agreed that it hasn’t been established what Finch intended to do with his materials.

Finch agreed to a deal that would put him in prison for up to 25 years if he isn’t granted parole. Judge Thomas Neville is not bound by the deal, and he is expected to decide Finch’s sentence on June 30.

In the meantime, Neville ordered a full mental health assessment of Finch — a step suggested by Bailey as an enhancement to the routine presentence inquiry.

STRANGE BEHAVIOR

Finch’s ex-girlfriend, who spoke to the Statesman on the condition her name not be used, said he had been acting strangely and secretively in the months leading up to his arrest, staying up all night to work on “projects” in a locked shed.

Worried, she said she “snooped into his email and saw this list he had written out for suspicious materials and prices.” One night when he was out, she went to the shed and saw small boxes marked hazardous or toxic, and a bucket of “black stuff.”

At that point she went to her parents, and together they confronted Finch on Nov. 4. Here’s how Kelly described what happened next: Finch became enraged, threatening to kill his girlfriend and assaulting her father. The parents left and later confided in a friend, who called law enforcement.

The ex-girlfriend said she didn’t feel threatened by Finch, and after the confrontation, he assured her he wasn’t making bombs. He brought the suspicious boxes into the house and showed her they were full of screws. He told her the black substance was “storage.”

“I wanted to believe him,” she told the Statesman. “I didn’t take him seriously. My parents took him seriously and that’s a good thing.”

The couple had been together for a decade, she said, and they were engaged. She called him “a good guy” who was great with their kids, ages 3 and 5.

‘I WAS WRONG’

At Thursday’s hearing, Judge Neville asked the defendant why he decided to plead guilty.

“I was wrong,” Finch said. “I shouldn’t have done it. I want to hold myself accountable for what I did.”

Finch also said he wanted to “speed the disposition” of his case, which had been scheduled to go to trial in mid-June.

The girlfriend’s father attended the plea hearing. He said that he has been advised not to discuss details of the case but that he’s happy it is nearing a resolution.

“I’m glad he accepted responsibility for his actions,” he said.

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

Former Statesman reporter Katie Terhune contributed to this report.

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